Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: mobile banking (page 1 of 2)

Plaid Among Fintechs You’ve Never Heard Of But Changing Banking

No, I’m not talking about the clothing pattern. Plaid is a Fintech startup which just announced a Series C funding round of $250 million. That gives them a valuation of $2.65B. Yes, billion. Chances are, 25% of your credit union members are using their service without even knowing. And Plaid isn’t alone, either in ubiquity or in valuation.

Powering The New Banking

Plaid powers the backend technologies which connect cool financial apps to your bank (or credit union) account. Little players like Venmo. Which is owned by PayPal (they bought them in 2013). I’m sure these aren’t worth your attention.

It’s not like Plaid does anything which may make your credit union into a “Dumb Bank”, simply a place where your funds sit and nothing else. No, they have no plans to take on other traditional bank services. Like mortgages. Oh, it appears they do. But it’s ok, they want your help.

This appears to be a common theme. PayPal’s new debit card “checking program” links with banks across the country to provide needed services, like deposits, check scanning, and lending. ApplePay partners with Discover and GreenDot Bank, itself a Fintech providing reloadable debit cards.

You’re Still Necessary, But Only For the Boring Bits

Fintechs look to partner with banking institutions because the bank part is hard. There’s lots of regulations, safeguards, and steps you know lots about. Basically, it’s easier to buy space in the safe than to build one yourself. Except they don’t pay you. Your resources get used, your members find great value, and might forget you’re the one holding their money.

“So if Fintechs need us banking institutions, why worry?” It’s a good question. And I’ve answered it before, in reference to lending services. How do you best serve your members? Is it with zero interaction, contact, or even awareness from them that you exist?

Of course not! You’re a part of their lives and they know it.

Well, what if your members never knew who you were? What if you were as recognizable as the brand of tires on your car? (I think I have Dunlop, but I’m not sure, and don’t really care, so long as they do their job) Could you still accomplish your mission?

At Least There Aren’t A Lot Of New Fintechs…

If only. Here’s a short list:

  • GoodMoney – Taking a piece of the credit union playbook, they give shares to all users, making them part owners, then use funds to support charitable works. Mission-focused and mobile-centric.
  • Netspend – Prepaid debit products in lieu of using traditional banking
  • Gotransverse – Backend software to allow complex billing solutions for companies
  • Simple – Banking with an app and debit card
  • Koho – Canadian firm with similar product to Simple. Site makes it clear “We are not a bank”, yet with their card, you don’t really need one.
  • PayPal – Besides powering online payments, making business loans, offering the underbanked a checking solution, they can also replace your banking needs. At least they did for this financial sector journalist.
  • Amazon – Business lending, potential checking, and pretty much anything…they’re Amazon

This list is by no means exhaustive. And, more importantly, the larger firms listed (and many more not included, like big banks and other tech companies) acquire start-ups for millions once they offer a competitive advantage. That’s a competitive advantage over you, to be clear.

What Can Credit Unions Do?

It’s unlikely your team will develop the next billion dollar valuation financial services solution. They’re too busy serving your members and countering the efforts of emerging Fintechs!

For me, the only answer is in partnerships. Some Fintechs seek to replace you. Others, like Kasasa or Econocheck (Disclosure: My company represents this service) focus on adding value to your services, while keeping your name front and center.

Your members will look to make their financial lives easier. Services like Plaid might be part of that answer. However, to remain relevant, you must deliver clarity on your value proposition to members as well. Take a look at some of these Fintechs, understand what they are doing and why they are so popular, and then decide how you can adopt these principles to grow into the future!

New Tech Alert! “Hey Siri, Pay My Electric Bill”

This is a CUbit.  In case you haven’t seen one before, these are my out-of-schedule short posts highlighting breaking news.

Today, Apple released a beta update for iOS (software powering iPhone and iPad).  There were the expected improvements and feature additions (hooray, an easy way to find my AirPods!), but something else snuck in.  Something which can change the entire credit union industry overnight.

Apple added bill pay capabilities to Siri.

Yes, with only your voice, you can pay a bill or check on the status of a payment.  Instead of opening an app, finding Bill Pay, trying to set a new one, finding out you can’t do it on your phone, going to your computer, entering the information…etc., now, just say, “Hey Siri, pay my cell phone bill.”  Or, “Hey Siri, did Dave ever pay me for that dinner?”

This functionality is now in beta as part of SiriKit (the API which powers integrations into Siri services).  If your banking platform service is not diving in to the documentation headfirst, tell them get on it!  And if you manage your own bill payment system, ask your IT to begin looking at what it will take to have your members paying by voice upon its release.

What are you waiting for?  Get to it!

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

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