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12 posts categorized "Mobile Banking"

January 28, 2014

The State of Credit Unions in 2014, As Predicted by The "Crystal Ball" of Google


by Ron Daly

Let's face it - Googling stuff is fun. It has been from the very beginning and it's still a hoot.

Sometimes, Google can show you the future. I decided to put Google's "crystal ball" capabilities to the test and see what 2014 had in store for the industry. I simply put

  • "In 2014, credit unions will *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions must *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions should *"

into the search bar and hit return. And voila! all the interesting tidbits about what the industry should focus on this year. Some highlights: 

"[Credit Unions] must focus on enhancing members’ cross-channel experiences, says Belinda Caillouet, chair of the CUNA Technology Council..."

"Charting Your Course Through 2014",

Agreed. Members are leaning hard on technology and demanding more channels that work well with one another. That includes mobile apps, online banking and ATM/branch services that all play well together and stay up-to-date and easy-to-use.

"Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in 2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or clicked."

"Digital Marketing Trends for Banks and Credit Unions in 2014",

Yep, right on the money. The technology we're using to sell to members is getting better and we can start making sense of data and offering products and services that make the most sense for each individual member.

“In the next 12 months, mobile will overtake online in terms of number of users. It already has more transactions."

"5 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2014",

I'll be interested to see the outcome of this one. Mobile's a big part of people's lives, but can credit unions rise to that challenge and create great mobile app experiences in the space of a year? A year, mind you, that's already down to eleven months as of Saturday of this week?

"In 2014, the trusted role of banks and credit unions as the collector of funds, provider of loans, processor of payments and advisor of financial relationships will continue to come under fire from non-traditional players including new financial organizations (neobanks), hardware providers, third party payment processors, and mobile app developers that merchants and consumers are using to chip away at the traditional financial services model."

"Top Ten Banking Trends for 2014",

More sharks in a still-pretty-small tank? This is the moment CUs have been waiting for — the moment to set themselves apart from the upstarts and prove they can be valued, trusted financial partners by offering sensible services and can't-be-beat member interactions.

"To experience loan growth in 2014, credit unions will need to originate significantly more consumer loans to offset the expected declines in mortgage originations."

"Marketing Overview and Data Report",

I'm really curious about what kinds of loans credit unions will be promoting in place of mortgages (assuming they cut back on mortgage promotions, which some won't). Credit cards? Student loans? Where's the "heat" in lending in 2014?

“Looking ahead to 2014, credit unions can expect to see the CFPB expand its fair lending focus,” said Bundy. “The CFPB’s regulatory agenda unmistakably signals that fair lending will be a focal point of new rule making starting in 2014.”

"CUNA Mutual Group Anticipates Broader Regulatory Focus in 2014",

"...The CFPB has the luxury in 2014 to move on to topics other than mortgages, such as overdraft, prepaid cards, Reg CC disclosures, and debt collection. To keep track of all of it, take advantage of various resources out there—besides NAFCU, and the CFPB, many law firms have compliance blogs and news alerts you can subscribe to for free. Knowledge is power, so grab on!"

"Credit union industry experts: What’s in store for 2014",

I bundled those together for a reason: the CFPB will be stepping up its game in 2014. Credit unions will need to arm themselves with information, as mentioned in the second story. There are plenty of great resources out there, both free and paid.

Any other big predictions for this year? Leave them in the comments section.

August 22, 2013

Have you ever spent $1,000 on candy?


by Jimmy Marks

[EDITOR'S NOTE -- Ron's off this week so we're throwing it over to Jimmy who's got a few things to say about Candy Crush Saga and the future of mobile games - and mobile money.]

I teased my wife mercilessly. I told her she was just wasting her time. I told her she looked like a crazy person, freaking out over a "game over" the way five-year-olds do when they're all out of Mario's.

She didn't hear a word of it. She was too busy playing Candy Crush Saga, a game where you line up different colored candies and they blow up and you line up other candies and...well, you're basically pattern-picking and trying to empty out rows and rows of brightly-colored candy. I thought it was juvenile. I thought it was stupid. 

Then, I played it. And WOW, is it ever fun

The game struck a nerve with me recently, though, when I started taking note of how often you're encouraged to "buy up". Extra lives are dangled in front of you when you've hit zero and you can always purchase more bonuses that will make the candy exploding a lot easier to manage. I'll admit it - I've dropped $0.99 on a five-pack of lives (to my wife, I offer my most heartfelt apologies). There are times when I can be reasonable and just put the game away until all my lives are replenished and I can play again. And then, there are times when I'm just too human and I cave.

I drew the line yesterday when, after reaching my newest level, I was told I had to complete three side-quests to keep playing. I could do this one of three ways: 

  1. Get on Facebook and bug my friends about it (more on that later...)
  2. Buy my way over to the next level for $1
  3. Play quests. You have to beat three small, short levels in order to move forward. You can only play one level in a 24-hour period. WHAT?!(more on THAT later, too...)


(Above: How I feel when I run out lives in Candy Crush.)

Continue reading "Have you ever spent $1,000 on candy?" »

May 09, 2013

Thinking Like a Software Company: Some Thoughts on Mobile, eWallets and Where We're Going


 by Ron Daly 

I caught a look at this article from BankInnovation about Bank of America's mobile users. Recently, BofA Senior VP Marc Warshawsky disclosed that the number of mobile logins to their electronic banking services outnumbered the "online" logins (that is, from a personal computer) for the first time. Apparently, BofA customers can't get enough of the megabank's mobile apps. Warshawsky had a few words for how to manage mobile as smartphone penetration increases.

From the article:

How should banks approach mobile? “Think like a software company,” Warshawsky said. But he added a word of caution to developers: “Not everything is the right thing to do for customers just because you can do it.”

A sharp observation. But I wonder what he means by "think like a software company", especially when software companies aren't really "companies" these days - some are just a handful of developers, or even one developer, working remotely to make an app. Hard for a company as large as BofA to tell other large institutions that the key to success is thinking small and light, don't you think?

To try and expand on this very small soundbite and think it out a bit, I made some notes. Tell me if you agree or not: 

Step 1: Function first, form second, platform third

If I were a developer, I would want to create a product first and foremost. What's the pain I'm trying to salve over with this app? Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, had a single goal in mind: make articles easy to read when you're able to read them. He worked hard to create the code that would strip out all the ads from an article and present the information in a way that was easy on the eyes (Instapaper makes it easy to adjust brightness and font size - great for guys like me who love their iPad and hate having to find their glasses). He then brought that to bear on the iPhone, the Kindle, the computer monitor, the iPad...and now that he's sold a majority stake to BetaWorks, you'll likely see the app on every platform out there. But what makes it worth the time and money? Simple - it does one thing well on the back end and presents it beautifully on the front end, no matter which "front end" you're using.

Step 2: Change is good, and necessary, and (relatively) easy

There's a world of difference between the "software" we were used to in the 90's and early 00's and the "apps" we can't live without today. "Software" was a big, branded box of discs and booklets and download codes. Want to update that software? You need another box and another authenticity code and another set of booklets. And, most likely, you'll wait five years.

"Apps" live in our little icon squares and update every few weeks...maybe every few days. When developers find bugs or want to push updates, it happens quickly and, typically, efficiently. Adobe's taken note of this - their super-expensive and super-sought-after Creative Suite is going subscription, meaning updates and changes will be pushed automatically - no more buying upgrades to CS packages. Don't be afraid to upgrade your mobile offering when the time comes and be sure to focus on bug reports, breaks and user feedback.

Step 3: Find new ways to simplify and specialize

Malauzai, our mobile app partner for our My Virtual StrongBox app, has made a few headlines recently thanks to their common-sense approach to app development. River City FCU has a high number of Spanish-speaking members. The solution? A multi-lingual app that can serve both English- and Spanish-speaking markets effectively. Users complained about having to enter login credentials to check a balance. The solution? An app that will display balances and recent transactions without logging in but requires a full login for transactions. Simple, compliant, effective. 

Our own app's got some smart problem-solving features, too. Some folks don't have scanners and want to make electronic copies of paper documents. Solution? Take a picture with your iPad's camera app and it stores the image in your online safe deposit space. Simple!

Step 4: Always be, opening, that is.

Warshawsky warns against overwhelming users with too much functionality in an app. While you may not want to jam every possible user action into your mobile app, you should definitely leave yourself open to opportunity. If a member checks in three times a day, how can you be sure they'll be seeing what they "should be" seeing? That is, how can you make certain that when a member's ready to move on a home loan or an auto loan, they think of you first? Better get smart about giving people clear paths to a deeper relationship.

Apps are a way to keep current and bring mobile convenience to members. They are, however, just another mile-marker on the road to mobile dominance in our culture. What happens when that much-discussed "mobile wallet" hits the member's hands? Are you going to be an important player, or an obstacle to progress? How can you be sure you won't be left behind? 

Talk to us about it in the comments.

February 07, 2013

The Pocket Merger: Your Phone is Becoming Your Wallet. Will Your CU Be Prepared?


by Ron Daly 

I'm an iPhone guy. When most of my peers were pecking away at a Blackberry hard-key, I was tapping and swiping my touchscreen wonder-phone. I'm currently working with an iPhone 4s, having bequeathed my old phone to one of my kids (who dropped her iPhone and shattered the screen). 

As someone who sits watching at the cross section of technology and finance, I'm fascinated by the idea of the "mobile wallet". I read a little more about it every day and, despite all my reading, I'm not quite sure what to think. Yes, interest is growing, but it's still small. Yes, the tech advancements are impressive, but also scattered between the people who were already handling payments (Visa, Mastercard and the like) and the start-ups (or is it "upstarts"?) out to stake their claim (Paypal, Square, Isis). Cheap, plastic doodads jut out of your phone that let you physically swipe a credit card with your smart phone. Suddenly, your smart phone's a wallet AND a cash register.

And a bank account? Time will tell, I suppose, if the merger between your phone and your wallet puts CUs at risk.

I pulled a few recent articles about the topic that I think are worth reading: 

Mobile Monday: Square Wallet Provides a Sneak Peek at the Future of Proximity Payment (Jim Bruene, NetBanker, full story here)

"And all your previous transactions, with full itemized receipts, are available within the Square app... It's truly the future of payments available for a sneak peek today. I highly recommend giving the Square Wallet a try."

Are Bankers Ready for The Bank 3.0 Reality? (Jim Marous, JD Power Banking Blog, full story here)

"[Quote from Brett King] The problem is that there are so many start-ups in the financial services and payments space that are impacting the way people view financial services that significant technology projects need to be undertaken by traditional banks just to keep pace. Investing in a technology layer, combined with the new costs of compliance, will be a challenge for smaller institutions. That doesn’t eliminate the potential for smaller organizations to collaborate or to build partnerships to respond to market realities, but I don’t see this happening."

Will You Be Ready When Mobile Wallets Turn Banking Upside Down? (Jeffry Pilcher, The Financial Brand, full story here)

"No matter what consumers today say they think of mobile wallets today, mobile wallets will triumph. Why? Because mobile wallets will simplify consumers’ lives in very personal and relevant ways. For starters, they eliminate the nuisance of thick, cluttered wallets. They also reduce the transmission of germs, because they eliminate  plastic cards, pens/signatures, touchscreens and keypads."

Mobility Matters: The Mobile Wallet Wars (Robert McGarvey,, full story here)

"If you are skeptical about digital wallets know that the skeptics may outnumber believers, at least among financial services executives. Forward motion towards wider wallet adoption has seemingly gotten just about nowhere in the past year. Few consumers have ever used one, few mobile devices have a digital wallet capability, and not many more retailers are equipped to accept them anyway.

But ask the experts and their advice is consistent: ignore digital wallets at your own risk because they are the future.

That clock is ticking."

Stop Spewing Mobile Wallet BS (The irrepressible Ron Shevlin, at Snarketing 2.0; full story here)

"If I've learned anything about doing consumer research it’s this: You can’t ask consumers their opinions about things that they don’t know. So, feel free to publicize your research about which mobile wallets are most popular with consumers, if you want, but I’m not buying any of it."

What are your feelings on the topic? Are you eager to pay for things with your smartphone? Think it's trouble brewing? Tell us more in the comments. 

January 23, 2013

People Are Lending Directly to One Another…So What Are We Doing Here?


by Ron Daly 

Today on, I was drawn to an article titled "Beyond the Home Loan: What can credit unions learn from online crowdfunding platforms?" [Here's the Full Article.]

While the article doesn't spell out the overall lessons, there are a handful of examples. Good enough, I suppose, because it got me thinking - what are we missing? 

Credit unions, as best I understand them (and after 30+ years in the business, I can honeslty say I do), were created to give members a way to lend to and borrow from one another. They were created as an alternative to the system. Now, for consumers, it seems like we're just another part of that "system". 

Bank customers and credit union members know that good loans go to good paper. If you're trying to buy a home or a car and you have a good credit score, you won't need to look for too long to get what you need. But if what you're trying to do is create a movie about Linotype machines or start a small business selling weirdly-shaped candles, you'll likely go wanting. And for the people who have rough credit, quick, high-interest loans with fewer strings mean more than "relationships" with a bank or credit union. 

As far as peer-to-peer finance and technology goes, you're crazy if you don't go read "A Game of Leapfrog" by Brent Dixon. 

From the article, originally published on the CU Watercooler

But meanwhile, many credit unions still don't even offer online account opening. We're saddled by regulations. We're a weighty, slow-moving beast. We make excuses.

Consumer finance is not just begging for disruption, it's experiencing it. In a few short years, many traditional institutions will be passed over. Leapfrogged. It's easier to build than reform, and people are building.

So, what can credit unions learn from peer-to-peer finance today?

  1. Time to Re-evaluate the "People Helping People" Message -

    Everyone I talk to in the industry loves that phrase, but how many credit unions are interested in the proof of it? When a person lends to Kickstarter, they get a "thank you" in the form of a gift - maybe a version of the product the borrower is developing or a branded package of swag with the up-and-coming product or company logo. What's the "thank you" gift new members get at your credit union? A letter? A free pen? 

    Better yet, where are the booklets and brochures with member success stories? Show me the story of a member who joined and went from broke to flush thanks to the credit union. Show me the small businesses that have benefited from the CU's guidance. Those stories have got to be there. Otherwise, my fees and interest are going toward nothing, as far as I can tell.

  2.  Partner Big, Lend Small

    According to the article above, services such as Kiva and Fundly use proven tech platforms like Paypal and Amazon to process payments and securely move money to and from borrowers and lenders.  Why can't credit unions partner with tech providers for everything they need - better online banking and account opening, smart phone apps, tracking of the loan process, etc.?

    It's not that they can't, it's typically that they won't...or don't want to. Even when vendors provide all the due-dilligence and proven testimonials and case studies, credit unions will still look for ways to doubt results. Who does that help? Not the member, certainly, and not the loan portfolio.

    And look at the amounts certain people are requesting - $300? $500? They'll go to a payday lender before they walk through your front door, how is that a good thing? It's not because the money isn't expensive - the rates on these small, short-term loans are outrageous. But people see fewer barriers to entry. They don't know they're walking into a trap. Shouldn't being more accessible be a goal for every credit union?

  3.  Never Turn Away From Your Social Missions

    People value charity, philanthropy, benevolence - not because they're "trendy", but because they're the right thing to do. We know hundreds of credit unions that partner with great causes but rarely explain the depth and their level of involvement. Why shy away from talking about things like Credit Unions for Kids? Share the good news with more than just a parting shot in your newsletter - make it a cause that you champion, not just "support".

  4.  Play the Game, But Play to Win -

    Sure, LendingClub and are growing enterprises. But are they human enterprises?  Can they really lend and handle deposits the way you can? Are those prepay debit cards celebrities seem to love so much really a better alternative? The answer to all three of those questions is "no". 

    You can provide deposit insurance. You can provide security. You can provide convenience. You can do it all and, if you do it well, you can show everyone that you're not "just another bank" - you were facilitating "peer-to-peer" before it was cool. And you're still here now.

It's not just lending that's being overtaken by "the people" - it's debt forgiveness, too. The Rolling Jubilee raised half a million dollars, bought up thousands and thousands of dollars of debt from banks, and forgave it. These "gifts of forgiveness" went out to average consumers, bogged down by medical or educational debt, and told them their debt was forgiven in its entirety. 

Your average consumer now knows that there are multiple ways to manage one's money - there's the bank, there's the credit union, or there's "none of the above". 

We USED to be the way people loaned money to one, we're a hinderance. We get our "people helping people" status back by being adaptable, affordable, approachable, and dependable. 

Let's get to it.


December 27, 2012

The Top 10 CU Soapbox Articles of 2012


Another year has run its course. We thought we'd wrap up this year of soapy, shouty goodness with a look at the ten best articles of the year (based on number of page visits). 

It's interesting to see what had everyone talking early in 2012 and how much things changed in a few short months. What do you think will be the hot news item of 2013? 

As always, thanks for reading. Here's hoping you enjoy this look back, and we'll see you in a few days for a new year of the CU Soapbox. 

  1. The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up

    We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances.

    Or, in some cases, marketers.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  2. WTF? What's Next, No "Union"?

    This is a crock. What's next? They start saying we're not allowed to use the word "Union" because labor forces complained? How are you supposed to tell people you're "much more than a bank" when you can't say the word "bank"?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  3. Suze Orman gets into the prepaid card game -- and out of the good graces of the CU Industry?

    Suze Orman wasn't hired to promote CREDIT UNIONS, she was hired to promote NCUA and their capacity as the insurer of cu deposits. But people read "Suze Orman" and "NCUA" and interpreted that as "Credit Union Spokeswoman".

    Which is unfortunate, because Suze Orman just decided to set herself up as a prepaid card magnate.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  4. Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Four Good Ideas for Getting Locally Known

    I've seen credit unions with extra-inclusive fields of membership. I've seen credit unions that have branches in far-flung corners of the globe. But let's be realistic - where are you?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  5. Focused on the Community: NerdWallet's Top 10 Community CUs.

    The top ten weren't simply listed, ten-to-one. They were highlighted for specific achievements, such as "Best Business Support", "Most Inclusive", and "Best Loan Assistance Program".

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  6. Guest Author Marvin Umholtz: Stop Feeding the Strategic Crocodiles Snapping at CU Heels

    Although potentially unsettling for those who like easy answers, this overview’s’ fundamental premise is that today’s credit union leaders must thoroughly understand what they are up against and mitigate it. Credit unions aren’t paranoid if malignant forces are truly out to get them!

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  7. Everybody's Reviewing It! Why Gen-Y Depends on Other People's Opinions Online

    Why would the opinion of someone a Gen-Yer has never met mean more than their real-world friends and family? Well, in the real world, maybe not. If someone runs up to you on the street and screams "BUY AN iPHONE!", it might not make you break out your wallet right then and there. But when Bazaarvoice means "stranger", I'm pretty sure they mean a "reviewer". And what does a review have?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  8. Still don't have a social media policy? Bet you'll write one after this...

    Think about it for a minute. Most of the videos in that story appear to be shot on a smart phone. What happens when it's not feet they're recording, but credit card and debit numbers? Checking account numbers and balances? Still not seeing a problem?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  9. Too Many Text Messages Might Make Some Unhappy People Into Millionaires

    Papa John's is staring down the barrel of a lawsuit that might cost them $250 million...all over a few dozen text messages. Talk about your overage charges.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  10. GUEST POST: Mark Arnold on Becoming Your Members' PFI

    Just think about it: what would happen if every one of your members just added an additional product or service per household? Odds are, your net income would skyrocket.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

December 13, 2012

It's "American Pickers"…only the stuff's pretty worthless.


by Ron Daly 

 I like "American Pickers". I'm a big yard sale guy and I love the idea of getting a big return on a junky little find. One man's trash is another man's treasure, after all.

Unless it's just plain ol' trash.

We were cleaning out the office the other day and I discovered a few rare gems from a bygone age. Among them: 

Photo Dec 05, 11 36 49 AM

Floppy disks! These little wonders used to be our way of moving files from one computer to another. Then, it was CDs. Then, it was thumb drives. Then, it was shared networks. And suddenly, these little springy disks just didn't cut the mustard. A little creative math tells us that a 2GB thumb drive holds as much information as 1,422 floppy disks. So why bother? 

Picked Price: ~$10 for a box of five in 1998

Current Value: Nuthin'. We don't even have a PC with a floppy drive anymore. 

Photo Dec 05, 11 40 30 AM

Phone Books! Two of them. Yep, there are businesses that will still buy yellow page ads and there are still phone companies that will drive around and hurl these fossils out in giant piles. If you think there's anything sadder than an enormous stack of dead trees full of information no one really needs, think again - it could be raining on these piles, making them not only useless, but soggy.

Picked Price: Technically free, but I'm sure I'm paying for them some way or another.

Current Value: Diddly squat.

Photo Dec 05, 11 43 38 AM

A big book on writing direct mail letters! And a heavy book, at that. For it's time, I bet this thing was a great value. But with the lack of attention people give letters anymore and the price of postage, this seems like an instruction manual on using your buggy whip. (Note: Yes, I know, I'm biased - but I'm a consumer, too, darn it. I don't give a lot of thought to direct mail pieces, other than whether to recycle them on throw them in the fireplace for kindling.)

Picked Price: Someone bought this in 1997 for $80, and it's in mint condition - we never even cracked the spine on this thing.

Current Value: I dunno...make me an offer. There are some interesting tips in here about writing, but you'll have to filter them through the past sixteen years of marketing changes.


So what have we learned from this? Time marches on. We make new discoveries, set new goals and meet them, and the old relics fade away in the process. Sometimes, they become treasure - there's a big-time market on old typewriters, watches, fancy pens, and anything that's both stylish and useful - even in the age of iPads and wi-fi. 

But certain things are junk, plain and simple. I can't imagine a world where artsy hipsters get up early on a Saturday morning to find old Zip-drives and printer cables. They served their purpose. Hopefully, they've been recycled. But I doubt it. Most of that stuff got swept out of an office that was being renovated, driven to a landfill and chucked into one big pile of mess.

When it comes to technology, awareness helps, as well as an aversion to attachment. Consumers are being educated to love the new and the now and to dislike anything that's a generation back. We update our technology not year-to-year, but week-to-week - "apps" have turned the industry of creating and shipping technology on its ear, letting everyday people get in on the game and create apps for the entire world to use. Computer companies are trying to make every generation of computer slimmer, faster, and more powerful than the generation prior. Why wouldn't you want the fastest, the best, the least-complicated version of anything? 

Why would you do business with a credit union or bank that doesn't make the everyday act of "banking" simple?

Are you going to be a relic? Are you going to be rubbish? Or are you going to be so important to the lives of your members that they'd never dream of throwing you out in the trash?

The strong survive, but the smart thrive.  

If you have comments, leave them here. If you need me, I'll be out in a barn, looking through old soda bottles and bike seats. The rich life, here I come!

August 10, 2012

Why Useful Alerts Mean So Much


by Ron Daly - 

Image Source: "Checkbook with a brain - 1975" by Nesster on Flickr (used under CC 2.0)

Notifications have been a blessing and a curse in the past decade.

"You have two new followers on Twitter!" Well, good for me. 

"John checked in at Boots-N'-Chutes!" Good for John, but why do I care?

"You were tagged in a photo on Susan's Facebook Album, 'Me and My Friends at a Jimmy Buffet concert!' Click to view." ...okay, that one's a good catch. Better untag that one of me with a margarita and a parrot hat. 

Yes, social media has spoiled us for notifications, turning the most mundane and unimportant notes into flashing billboards that you almost can't avoid. 

How do credit unions get heard above the din? By remembering the truth...

Nobody's Thinking About You

Anybody a "Mad Men" fan out there? I've only seen bits and pieces, but one scene sticks out in my mind. Do you remember this past season when Don Draper cheated one of his junior copywriters out of a campaign for shaved ice? The junior copywriter tells Don he feels bad for the way Don is, and Don responds "I don't think about you at all." 

Powerful words. They don't mean "I love you", they don't mean "I hate you". They mean "you don't matter". And, sadly, I think a lot of people feel this way about their banking (er, "credit unioning") relationship. As long as they get approved at point-of-sale and there are no big fees lurking around the corner, most members don't care much what their credit union is "all about". It's usually when there's a NSF fee incurred or a payment missed or a check bounced that people get up-in-arms and start contemplating a switch.

But there's a hidden misunderstanding here - members CAN AVOID huge overage charges, missed payments, and running out of money. They just don't like to think about their accounts or their budgets. And other banks and credit unions are setting high bars by using smart, targeted and actionable eLerts, so when a member doesn't get a warning sign to stop spending, they're left feeling burnt.

JJ Hornblass wrote a great article about this very topic on Bank Innovation. From the article

Is it valuable to know when a balance is low? Yes. Is that all a customer needs to know when it comes to low balances? Of course not. A meaningful alert would be one that cross references balances with payments. Let me explain. Say I have $10,000 in my checking account. Certainly, that is not a “low balance” — and US Bank would not send me an alert as a result. But what if I have a future payment planned for the following week in the amount of $11,000? The fact is that $10,000 immediately becomes “low.” And what if I get paid $6,000 every Monday? Well, then that $10,000 is not “low” anymore.

See how a little "extra mile" thinking can turn "Your money's gone." into "Your money's about to disappear, let's do something about it."? See how valuable that is to a member? See how it changes the way they think about you — not just as some brick building that holds their paycheck hostage week to week, but as a partner, a concerned party in their financial future?

Remember how important check registers were to your parents, or maybe even to you? Those days are long gone. Newer generations of members want to see their money come in and go out in real time online and have a rough idea about what's there otherwise.

Meet the demand. Make them think about you, and make those thoughts happy thoughts. 

August 02, 2012

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


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 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. 

September 21, 2011

Taking the "Bank" out of "Banking": How the Steve Jobs Decade Has Changed Finance


by Ron Daly

Brett King over at Bank 2.0 posted an article titled "How Steve Jobs Killed the Branch". There's been a lot of talk recently about Steve Jobs stepping down as the CEO of Apple and moving into a more private role in the company. Tim Cook has taken Jobs' place as CEO and the black-turtlenecked dynamo has quietly stepped aside, due to his health concerns. The news of this change sent a shockwave through the Internet as Apple fans and tech fans alike shared their shock and their appreciation for a man that has many times over beaten the odds (go read about Steve Jobs' impact and listen to his 2005 commencement speech here. Very good stuff.)

Brett's article focuses on one important aspect of Jobs' legacy. From the post

This is not the sole legacy of Steve Jobs and the team at Apple, but when we look back on banking in 10-20 years time when branches have disappeared, we will attribute the destruction of the traditional value chain of banking to the death of the ‘store’. Not all stores are destroyed, of course, but where you have goods or services that can be easily digitized or where distribution does not absolutely require physicality, then the value chain is disrupted. The two big upsets in this evolution of the store were really Amazon’s destruction of the book store, and iTunes destruction of video and music stores.

I think Brett has a point there. The Kindle really did a number on bookstores and paper books alike (the Borders down the street from us is going, going...). The iPod destroyed all the Tower Records and Sam Goody's of the world because, finally, you didn't need a twenty-disc CD changer in your car - you just needed a little rectangle with a wheel. And why? 

Because paperbacks and hardcovers were just a means of distributing the words in a book. CDs and Casettes were just a way to store the music until it hit your ears. The medium wasn't more than the message. In some cases, it was much, MUCH less. 

As technology has advanced, our dependence on cash and checks has diminished. Debit and credit are pushing out cash and NFC is threatening cards - we'll keep making strides away from the physical aspects of money management until branches are almost obsolete. Why? Because money's not a physical thing anymore. At least, it doesn't have to be. And you don't need a bank to do all your banking.

When you can:

  • Open an account online
  • Deposit remotely online
  • Apply for a loan AND get approved online
  • Resolve NSFs and low-fund situations online
  • Transfer money between accounts online 
  • Budget online
  • Buy online

...why go to a branch to get things done? 

Steve Jobs didn't exactly kill the branch. But he certainly didn't stop the bleeding.