MADISON, Wis. (12/29/11)--Credit unions are at the forefront of two technology trends that bear close watching in 2012: application development and QR codes.
Financial institutions can leverage mobile technology's QR codes to interactively engage member/customers,Javelin Strategy & Research said in its 2012 Predictions for Banking, Payments, Mobile and Security.
This is the second in a two-part News Now series on technology trends for 2012.
QR codes are bar codes on steroids, according to a Huffington Post Tech blog. They encode information in the in magazine pages, advertisements, even on TV and websites. While barcodes typically identify products and objects, QR codes can trigger actions such as launching a website or downloading a file.
QR codes are most often used to link to content from smartphones. Simple uses include magazine advertisements that link to websites.
Minnesota Power Employees CU, Duluth, Minn., uses a QR code to link smart phone users to its website.
The credit union developed a QR reader application for free through the website Kaywa.com, according to Nancy Hutchinson, Minnesota Power Employees CU senior vice president of marketing/business development.
Members can download a free QR reader and access the $79 million asset credit union's website through their smartphones.
"It was free, so it saved us a lot of money," Hutchinson said. "We couldn't have afforded to develop an application on our own. But most importantly, members love it. Any technology with mobile phones or iPads is hot right now."
And because these are hot, credit unions will be looking for more "apps."
With the opening of its DNAappstore in May, Open Solutions placed a $100 million bet that community financial institutions would collaborate to create an online marketplace for core system solutions.
The service enables participants to build and sell their own apps using DNAcreator and to buy those developed by others in the DNAappstore.
The concept is designed to save community financial instituions institutions time and money. With an active marketplace, credit unions won't have to wait months or years for core providers to provide upgrades. The cost of the typical app is a few thousand dollars, according to Lizette Nigro, Open Solutions product manager.
"Our market is credit unions and community banks," Nigro said. "Individually, the biggest financial institutions may be too big to fail, but collectively community financial institutions are too important to fail. They are the backbone of meeting consumer needs. We saw an opportunity to provide a means of collaboration so could better compete with the larger financial instituions in the world."
Credit unions are among the most active developers within the DNAappstore. As of the end of November more than 100 apps have been developed. Nigro estimates about 70% of the apps were developed by credit unions.
"Credit unions have a culture of being more progressive and nimble," Nigro said. "And collaboration is just more a part of their culture."