Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: mobile app

Apple Reinvents (Improves?) the Credit Card

Today, Apple held their seasonal keynote event, to highlight new services in a range of categories. You may get a kick out of their Apple TV+ lineup. Maybe you’re stoked about reading all your magazines on your iPhone with Apple News+.

But you’re here for Apple Pay improvements. We are talking about the banking world, right?

What is Apple Card?

In the most simple terms, Apple introduced a credit card. They’re calling it Apple Card. (PS – They partnered with Goldman Sachs. Remember talking about that?)

It’s a “mobile-first” card, in that you do most of your spending, tracking, and reward redemptions all within the app.

The entire platform lives within the native Wallet app in your iPhone. No more downloading a banking app just to pay the credit card bill.

Apple Card - Physical
Titanium. Seriously. (And no numbers to get stolen!)

You can track spending by category, merchant, and even view trends. Payments are simplified, with realtime interest calculations based on what you choose to pay. And rewards deposit daily (they’re calling it Daily Cash) into your Apple Cash account (we’ve spoken about this before).

And the physical card is shiny! (It’s made out of titanium!)

Fabulous metal aside, you care about what the card offers. And is it a threat to your institution?

Spoiler: Yes. Probably.

The Apple Strategy

With more than a billion active devices, any time Apple does something, it matters. Few companies have the ability to affect the behaviors of so many so quickly. I’m not even suggesting you try.

What they did with Apple Card is look at all the pain points within the credit card realm:

  • Applying
  • Tracking spending
  • Paying
  • Redeeming (and understanding) rewards
  • Understanding interest costs (and how to minimize)
  • Getting questions answered

Then they added a bit of Apple touch to align the offering with their mission:

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Beauty (it’s subjective, sure, but the card is so pretty!)

The result is a mobile-first, simplified, and streamlined vision of a credit card.

Here’s how they addressed those pain points:

  • Application: Tap to apply. Done. It automatically issues the digital version, adds it to your Wallet, and that’s it. The physical copy gets mailed.
  • Tracking spending: The app color-codes spending categories, gives merchants their real logos, and uses machine learning (AI) to decrypt those obscure “IC SPEND A-MERCH 14312” charges (it was the Greek food truck, by the way). It will even show it on a map and link to it on Yelp!
  • Paying/Interest: Graphical wheel that you slide your finger around to see your payments change, along with the interest accrued. Financial education with a swipe.
  • Rewards: 3% at Apple, 2% using the digital version, 1% with physical card. Redeems automatically as cash every day (with notation) into your Apple Pay Cash card. Which you can spend at merchants, online, send to friends/family, and more.
  • Privacy: No merchant gets any details about you on any purchase.
  • Security: Every payment uses a one-time code (just like any other ApplePay transaction). Suspicious transactions appear as notifications (and can be approved or denied with a tap). A new card is sent out and no changes needed.
  • Support: Using Business Chat for iMessage, customers can simply text their question to the service. A person answers and helps them out. Through their normal messaging app.
  • Fees: They don’t have them. Any. At all.

Can Your Credit Union Compete?

That’s a great question. On the surface, no. You cannot create such a streamlined system with the tight integration between bank and provider.

However, all is not lost!

I’ve made a point to talk about partnering in many previous posts. It’s just as valuable (if not more so) today!

Your institution is good at the money part. You might also be great in the relationship area.

But, let’s be honest. You’re not awesome with the technology. It’s a constant effort to keep up with evolving expectations as it is, right?

Two People Talking Over Coffee

That’s why you need to partner with companies who specialize in these things. My last post talked about making member communication simple. That’s one of their pain points!

Another post addressed the issues with boring transaction sheets. Am I spending too much on hummus? (The answer to this is, of course, never!)

And the most cynical/sarcastic/actually realistic answer to this question:

Sure, because it only works for members with an iPhone. Look at all those Android users you can still attract!

Mobile First = Simple First

White iPhone in Hand

You’ll hear a lot of talk about how “mobile first” design is essential. That making services for a computer is immediately alienating your target audience. I’m betting the firms which sell you these platforms will be climbing over each other to talk about how their stuff is so mobile first ready.

It’s not wrong. There’s a lot of value to making sure your offering is accessible from where people are.

However, I want to be clear:

Mobile First doesn’t just mean you need to make sure it works on phones.

Mobile First means that your driving strategy is:

How can we make something so simple, so intuitive, so obvious that members can do what they want in a few seconds?

Apple stepped back and saw many of the traditional challenges in credit cards. Then, they built a system (with appropriate partners) to overcome these “yucky spots”.

Filament Bulb Hanging

It’s about looking at what the real problems are, and how you can address them.

If Edison had only tried to make a brighter candle, he would never have invented the light bulb.

To help illuminate (pun actually not intended, but enjoyed) your best path forward, I encourage you to Subscribe to my blog.

Image credit: Apple

If IT’s Broke, You Can’t Release

Eagle-eyed readers will notice the “typo” in my title. Good catch! However, no mistake was made. We’re talking IT, as in “information technology”. In other words, your digital stuff.

Naturally, I’m a member of a credit union. They are a small to mid-sized institution, and I’m going to leave their name out of the discussion. If you really want to know, a quick check on my Twitter feed will give you the answer you seek. You’ll understand why in just a few sentences.

Honest disclosure: They’re no longer my primary financial institution. Let’s just say that not all credit unions are like yours.

A recent article by a fellow industry writer pointed out many great points about engaging your younger members. Yeah, a Millennials story. With truths! Rhiannon Stone (I’m sure she never gets the Fleetwood Mac reference tossed out…nope, I’m the first) explains, like me, that appealing to young people is just like connecting with anyone else. Your services need to be naturally easy to use, fast, and comprehensive. Also, they just have to work. “You are more likely to keep younger members by providing applications that are straightforward, intuitive, and free of glitches.”

Therein lies the point of this post. Their mobile app, shall we say, is old. It last received an update October 2, 2013. Did your current phone exist back then? 3 years is an eternity in mobile tech. Especially in mobile banking. But, it worked. No, it didn’t fill the screen and functionality was limited, but, the things it did support ran as expected.

On Monday, they released a new version…finally! It debuted a redesigned look and feel along with some new security features. No, the new design wasn’t better, but it was new for newness sake. Oh well. But alas, it now supports logging in with Touch ID! Welcome to 2015 and the big bank apps! I eagerly activated this feature. Then I closed the app and reopened it to test.

It didn’t work.

Ok, that’s not fair. The app opened right up with no problem. Only it never asked for my fingerprint. Or my password. It was now stuck “logged in” to my account info. Even logging out in the app was just a tease. Reopen it and there appeared my accounts again.

Being the responsible user I am, I quickly reported this issue to my credit union via Twitter. Two whole days later (they posted “Good morning” tweets in-between), they replied (ok, they “quoted” my tweet, but it’s close enough) with, “Hi Joe, thank your feedback. We’ll look into it and will try to improve this soon!” Grammatical errors are their own.

Would this inspire confidence in the security of your data? Or in their attention to detail? Let’s recall what Ms. Stone said about keeping younger members: “by providing applications…free of glitches.” This is beyond a glitch. It tells me they never bothered testing. In case you might think, “well, he’s a geek, probably running some weird operating system on an obscure phone.” I have an iPhone 7 with iOS 10.1.1, the same setup hundreds of millions of other Apple users enjoy.

I can understand if the interface on their new app had some visual artifacts or performance issues. It’s new and all software has bugs. However, the core security should be rock-solid. This part you can’t compromise or “wing it”. To me, such a critical bug should mean the app gets pulled immediately until it can be resolved. You can’t mess around with security.

My generation doesn’t tolerate security issues or companies with a lax attitude towards technical problems. Look at the uproar when Netflix was recently down for a few hours…the Internet nearly imploded. Netflix, to their credit, was incredibly responsive throughout the outage, updating as they learned more. This is how you have to be now.

Like it or not, your credit union is now a tech company, with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with the role. Those who can fulfill this position well will reap the benefits. Those who don’t grasp this concept will be in a future, “mergers of the month” article from NCUA.

Where do you see your credit union in 5 years?

Image credit: http://www.csus.edu/sacstatenews/articles/2010/12/images/instory_security.jpg

Tech to Confuse

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed with new technologies that you simply gave up? “Look at the new iOSdroid 45.759 iPhone Max 16” Extra High Resolution 4K 3D Hologram Edition!” What? Forget it. My Motorola StarTAC works just fine for me. You can keep your, um, whatever that is.

Ok, I exaggerated. Slightly. Though for someone not keenly on the “bleeding edge”, it can feel that way. Lots of technology, no idea how it connects to your life.

This can happen to anyone, even a self-proclaimed geek like myself. Through a series of odd events, I wound up getting a new car. It has everything. Here’s a rundown of just some of its advanced technologies: Smart City Brake Support, Forward Obstruction Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Smart High Beams, Adaptive Headlights, Radar Cruise Control, Capacitor Regenerative Braking, and Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers…whew!

At first blush, the technologist in me went bonkers. “Gadgets, gizmos, sensors, radar, LASERS!” Then I asked the question you’ve doubtlessly posed before as well. “So, now what?”

I read the manual, all 500 pages of it, and endeavored to press every button and instigate every advanced thing on the car. I’ve managed about half thus far. But would the average person bother? The manufacturer possibly wondered the same, since a few of the features need to be manually activated. Given how many VCRs I’ve seen over the years flashing 12:00, well, you can guess.

It’s the same way at your credit union. Each day, I notice new articles in my Twitter feed about how credit unions must implement technologies to better engage with their members, beat the banks, and survive into the future. Sure, mobile deposit is a given today. So is a clean and functional mobile app. And, of course, your website should be presented as a virtual branch, mirroring the great experience members receive upon walking into your brick-and-mortar establishments.

But technology for technology’s sake? There are a few of us who enjoy such things, but we are not the majority, and you should not stake your future on us. Even the typical technology-laden Millenial has little care for unnecessary trimmings. If it makes your member uncomfortable, confuses them, or otherwise makes them feel like they’re “missing something”, it needs to be reconsidered.

If a member is ready to take action with your credit union, get out of the way! Help, don’t hinder, their efforts. If you’re implementing new technologies, make them seamless and invisible to the member. Otherwise, prepare to have a lot of explaining to do.

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