Sep 08 2015

Mobile Banking: Trends in Technology, Innovation, and Equity

Today, people across a broad spectrum of industries and research areas are looking to mobile as a way to address problems from the small (where are my friends hanging out on Friday night?) to the seemingly unsolvable (how can we help lift people out of poverty?). Credit unions need to be part of that discussion.

To facilitate that, the Filene Research Institute headed to the heart of all things mobile: Silicon Valley. With partners at Stanford University, we brought together experts from academia, design, technology start-ups, and credit unions to learn more about both the nitty-gritty of mobile and its potential to be a transformative force.

Mobile is a disruptive force that’s changing the world of financial services. What should your credit union be doing now? We recommend the following:

  • Get started.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the cost of mobile and the wealth of decisions and options that surround it. Sure, it’s important to get mobile “right,” but it’s also important not to get so bogged down that you never begin the mobile journey.
  • Collaborate.  Collaboration should be at the heart of the credit union experience. Credit unions have much to learn from oneanother, and this is especially true in technology. The credit union system will never be able to compete with huge banks and tech behemoths like Google and Apple, so it must collaborate to both minimize the digital valleys that drive members away and optimize the “peak” experiences that delight them.
  • Go beyond the financial.  Credit unions will provide a true alternative to the traditional banking model only if they make a measurable difference in members’ financial lives. This goal should be central to every credit union decision, including how you’ll launch and support mobile. Credit unions shouldn’t just duplicate what banks offer. Instead, credit unions should seek out ways that their mobile tools can improve member quality of life and differentiate the credit union experience.
  • Embrace analytics. One of our colloquium speakers compared credit unions not using the wealth of member data available to them to Saudi Arabia deciding not to drill for oil—and even went so far as to call using data a “moral imperative.” The value of data analytics is well documented, and mobile gives credit unions an efficient way to gather and disseminate information to the benefit of their members and themselves. Plus, data give credit unions a way to sort people by a host of new categories: what inspires them versus their zip code, their predilection to accept new ideas versus their education level.
  • Recognize that data security is critical. Boundaries and the definition of “ownership” are clear in the physical world but much less so in the digital. Credit union success will depend, in part, on its ability to protect members against threats to their privacy and digital property.

Filene thanks our generous partners for making this important research possible. 

Report Number 372