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There's an App for That: Engaging Members through Tablet and Smartphone Applications

This research brief reviews app development trends and provides a futuristic outlook on how apps can increase your credit union’s mobile visibility.

Executive Summary

In this research brief, Brett Wooden highlights the challenge facing today’s credit unions: offering members value-added products and services that fit their needs and their fast-paced digital-age lifestyles. Wooden reports on the growing mobile, tablet, and app markets with an eye toward enhancing members’ credit union experience through extending credit union services and creating on-demand delivery mechanisms.

What is the research about?

You don’t need a pile of data to be convinced that smartphones, tablets, and other wirelessly networked devices are transforming every- day life. Still, consider this factoid: The rate of iPhone and Android device adoption has surpassed that of any consumer technology in history. For comparative purposes, these devices are being adopted 10 times faster than the PC was in the 1980s and 3 times faster than social media! Given this dramatic shift in consumer behavior, this brief addresses the following 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?

What are the credit union implications?

Credit unions want (and need) to leverage the mobile app revolution. Externally, consumers want a convenient mobile experience. Internally, credit unions want to be more responsive to member needs and increase operational efficiency. Yet, credit unions are dissatisfied with and confused by the current app solution set. As smaller institutions, credit unions typically don’t have development staff dedicated to creating custom products or services and instead rely on “templatized” and largely undifferentiated mobile apps. 

At the same time, credit union competitors (large, small, established, and start-up) provide beautifully unique solutions that delight today’s consumers. With approximately 70 million tablet users by year-end and 4.6 billion smartphones being used worldwide, it’s safe to say that consumers are a mobile bunch. This brief helps demystify the conundrum credit unions find themselves in and provides ideas for credit unions to implement “an app for that.”

This report is sponsored by Card Services for Credit Unions (CSCU).