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Tablets RDC among the trends for CUs in 2012
MADISON, Wis. (12/28/11)--What are the technology trends credit unions will mark during 2012? Experts say tablet technology, remote deposit capture, application development and QR codes will be at the forefront for credit unions.

This is the first in a two-part series on technology trends.

The first installment will explore tablet technology and remote deposit capture for member business services.

Apple tapped the consumer market's hunger for tablet technology with the iPad, but competitors are beginning to gain traction with more affordable models that provide comparable functionality. That trend appears as if it will continue.

A study by Oracle found that 57% of consumers already own a tablet device or plan to purchase a device in the next 12 months.

Tablet technology provides credit unions with the same primary benefit as it does consumers: portability. Unitus Community CU, Portland, Ore., has used iPads to support its business development program for more than a year.

"Any time you get your business development officers (BDOs) away from their desk and out in the field, they are going to be able to reach more people," explained Brett Wooden, business development manager at Unitus Community CU.

Unitus Community BDOs can open new accounts through their iPads, which also store the credit union's marketing materials. The iPads can't yet process transactions, but they can be used to fund accounts and take loan applications, Wooden said.

The credit union's BDOs used iPads to open 186 new accounts during a tent event in advance of a branch grand opening earlier this year. Each new account averaged more than four new products or services with the credit union.

Both paperless and portable, the iPad is also effective for taking surveys. "We paid $5,000 for a radio campaign announcing one of our branch grand openings, but when we asked 300 people how they heard about it, only two said radio. We brought that information back to our marketing team and said that $5,000 could be better used elsewhere," Wooden said.

Similarly, tablet data collection capabilities can be used to store member information, such as product interest or preferences, while credit union representatives are out in the field. "In the past, we had to write all that down and log it into a computer back at the office," Wooden said.

The same mobility that makes iPads convenient for consumers to tote around the home or office makes them easy to use in a branch environment as well, Wooden said. "A teller can flip around a screen (on a tablet) and show a member what he or she is looking at a lot easier," Wooden said. "Or if members are waiting in line, we can educate them on mobile services or other products."

For credit unions involved in member business services, remote  deposit capture offers an opportunity to build existing relationships, according to Christine Barry, a research director for Aite Group, a financial research company.

Research by Aite indicates that about 7% of credit unions that offer member business services also offer remote deposit capture, but 42% said it is likely or extremely like that they will offer RDC in the next year.

Just as important  only about 5% of small businesses are using RDC, according to Aite. But about 43% of businesses expressed a willingness to use it.

"I think credit unions recognize the opportunity, and our research shows the opportunity is there for credit unions," Barry told News Now.

RDC offers credit unions an opportunity for fee income and just as important, can help credit unions even the playing field with their larger competitors, she said.

"One thing credit unions are really known for is building relationships," Barry said. "I think RDC requires a bit of hand holding to get comfortable with. Credit unions have the advantage over banks in that they have the ability to do that hand holding."

The Credit Union National Association estimates that increasing the current 12.25% of assets members business lending cap to 27.5% of a credit union's total assets would have a number of beneficial effects on the ailing economy, including infusing $13 billion in new credit for small businesses and adding 140,000 new jobs within the first year of enactment--all at no cost to the American taxpayer.
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