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Filene: Engage members through tablets, smartphones
MADISON, Wis. (1/24/13)--Credit unions need to engage members through tablet and smartphone apps and to stay abreast of those devices' adoptions, which have outpaced all other consumer technologies in history, according to a new Filene Research Institute study.

Filene's study, "There is an App for That: Engaging Members through Tablet and Smartphone Applications," addresses the questions:

  • What types of financial apps for mobile devices are currently present in the marketplace, and who are the key players?
  • How can customization of apps change employee and member behavior?  Is it worth customizing an app or is it better to go with a standard template?
  • What would a few app prototypes look like for the financial sector?
The number of U.S. tablet users more than doubled between 2011 and 2012 (eMarketer Jan. 9). In that year, eMarketer estimates that U.S. tablet users increased to 79.1 million from 33.7 million. By 2016, the number of U.S. tablet users will hit 154.5 million, eMarketer estimates.

The implications for credit unions are that they need to leverage the mobile app revolution, the study said. "Externally, consumers want a convenient mobile experience," Filene said. "Internally, credit unions want to be more responsive to member needs and increase operational efficiency.

"Yet, credit unions are dissatisfied and confused by the current app solutions set," the study added. "As smaller institutions, credit unions typically don't have development staff dedicated to create custom products or services, and instead rely on 'template-ized' and largely undifferentiated mobile apps."

The study advises credit unions looking for mobile apps opportunities to think about solving the issue of potential members and new members, by focusing less on their websites and more on their apps. An app should not be viewed as a mobile banking app, but rather as a branded app for the credit union.

Also, incorporating mobile instant messaging into an app will permit users to ask questions regarding credit union products and services, Filene said. That will allow users to exit the app and receive a push notification with an answer from a credit union representative.

Filene also advised credit unions considering mobile apps to ask these questions:

  • What is the right scenario for the credit union?
  • Should the credit union hire an internal developer or an external team to develop them?
  • Can the credit union do something noteworthy within its budget?
To download the study, use the link.
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