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August 02, 2012

BTD2012: Will It Happen, and If Not, Will You MAKE It Happen?

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by Ron Daly -

Reports vary on how important Bank Transfer Day 2011 was. The 5th of November was supposed to have been the finish line of months of bank-switching and move-making. What came of it? 

According to a new Javelin study, not nearly as much as what might have been. Even though the NCUA and CUNA have speculated that 2011 brought in between 1.3 and 2.1 million members, respectively, Javelin's Mark Schwanhausser has called BTD "a bust". Even though the year saw impressive member growth (by CU industry standards), Javelin's study suggests that 11% of consumers are still eager to switch and some $675 Billion is still up for grabs in 2012...well, what's left of 2012, that is. 

So, when is Bank Transfer Day 2012? Is it needed? Could it happen again as it had before?

Ron Shevlin doesn't think so. From his blog

As far as I’m concerned, BTD 2011 was a passing phenomenon. A one-time shot. The pieces came together at a moment in time in 2011, and those pieces aren’t there for 2012. 

What pieces, specifically? An angry public, for one. People just aren't as incensed this year. They haven't had a "$5 fee-asco" like the Bank of America fee that kick-started the whole affair in 2011. Not to say the "Big-Banks" aren't charging fees - far from it. But there's no kick-start, no "straw that broke the camel's back" this year. 

Another missing component? A strong social media groundswell, created by an outsider, pushed on by concerned and eager fans and followers. You can't just drum those up out of nothing, they have to be hand-made by eager participants. 

And what about the insistance that "every day is Bank Transfer Day"? Yes, it's technically true, but are credit unions making the switch an easy one?

I was at an industry event a few weeks ago when someone insisted that "switch-kits" - the online walk-throughs designed to help people move their money - are "worthless" (their words, not mine). So, what's the key? Is there a snappy, easy way to get money from one FI to another and close accounts? 

And on the other side of the coin, there's a much bigger issue: member attrition. How many members that DID show up thanks to BTD are already gone? How many will we lose this year? If we keep sliding backwards, how will we ever get the growth we need? More startling, the fact that people itching to switch would be willing to pay fees for additional services...as much as $92 million. In FEES! Don't you see how important it is to not only offer "great customer service", but to offer sticky, useable products to back that up (as I discussed in my July CU Community article)? 

I can tell you this - if you're hoping another 50% member increase is just going to fall into your lap, you're dreaming. 

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