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Written by Cyndie Martini
on August 30, 2017

Your mobile banking app needs an update: Here's what credit unions should do

Most financial institutions know the importance of having a mobile banking app. Consumers today expect to be able to do nearly anything using their phones. That includes basic banking tasks, like checking a balance, depositing a check or paying a bill.

In response to the growing need for mobile connectivity, many credit unions and other institutions have invested in mobile banking apps of their own. Now, there are more than 6,000 banking apps available to consumers, with 352 of them having been created in 2016, according to Malauzai Software.

Mobile banking apps have room for improvement

The large number of mobile apps available is a good thing; consumers reportedly seek out these capabilities when choosing their financial institution, according to "The ath Power Consumer Digital Banking Study."

The study found that 80 percent of consumers' favorite way to bank is through their mobile devices, and 91 percent said that these capabilities were important to their overall banking needs, Loyalty360 reported.

Given this information, it's clear that every financial institution should have a mobile app available to its members. Most importantly, however, is that the app provides the services they actually need. Unfortunately, many may not be providing these services: Fewer than two-thirds of respondents said they were highly satisfied with their app experience.

"The heightened expectations of today's tech-savvy consumers combined with the lack of advancement and improvement of their financial institution's digital solutions have certainly contributed to this drop in satisfaction," Frank Aloi, founder and CEO of the ath Power, said according to Loyalty360.

Transparency and security are essential

In building the perfect mobile banking app, credit unions must focus on transparency and security first. These are two essential elements that will help build strong relationships, Mobile Payments Today reported.

Financial security is on everyone's mind when it seems like hackers are lurking at every corner of the virtual world. Individuals, small businesses and large corporations are all at risk for criminal infiltration. It's critical that credit union members feel confident each and every time they log into their mobile banking app and know that their financial information is secure.

Credit unions can utilize security features like touch ID and pass codes to ensure the apps are safe.

Transparency between the financial institution and the member is highly important. No consumer wants to believe their bank or credit union is keeping important information from them. As such, mobile banking apps should have all relevant information easily accessible, including any applicable interest rates, balances, bill due dates and credit scores.

Push notifications are another way to show the member that the credit union is actively pursuing a transparent relationship. Notifications like when an account statement is ready, when a deposit is cleared, or when a payment deadline has been missed will all be appreciated by the consumer.

Staple and innovative features

There are some features that every mobile banking app should have. For example, it's become commonplace to have up-to-date balances or access to account statements available in the app. Actions like mobile check deposit and bill pay are also widely seen in apps. As such, no app should be created or updated without these functions.

Then there are the capabilities that are less common, like automatic deposits into savings accounts or spending tracking. There are apps - incredibly popular ones at that - out there that do these things, Mobile Payments Today pointed out.

For example, Acorns is an app that, when connected to a card or account, rounds up every purchase made through that account to the nearest dollar amount and invests the change automatically. (So, if you buy a $3.49 cup of coffee, you just invested $0.51).

Mint is another app that can be connected to cards and accounts. This app tracks spending and even delivers push notifications when spending is abnormally high, or a sudden large purchase is made. It can even help in forming specialized budgets for users.

Mobile Payments Today pointed out that these are key areas where financial institutions are missing out. It's clear that consumers want these capabilities: Acorns has more than 2 million investment accounts, according to TechCrunch; and Mint gained 1.5 million users in its first two years, according to KissMetrics. Despite the obvious need, few mobile banking apps actually have these capabilities.

Credit unions that already have a mobile banking app are on the right track. But chances are, there are some tweaks they can make to ensure a user experience their members will want to come back to time and again.

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