Why be­ing cool isn’t enough

It’s not enough to of­fer some cool, new app—it also needs to ad­dress a par­tic­u­lar pain point if you want to see ro­bust adop­tion that makes a real dif­fer­ence.

Credit Union Journal - - Front Page - BY W.B. KING

SURE, THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT – BUT if a fi­nan­cial app doesn’t ad­dress a real need or pain point, it’s not likely to catch on.

That’s why South­west Fi­nan­cial Fed­eral Credit Union and Vir­ginia Credit Union stayed fo­cused on meet­ing a spe­cific mem­ber need. With that in mind, South­west Fi­nan­cial wanted to of­fer an in­ter­ac­tive, face-to-face mo­bile video bank­ing app, while Vir­ginia CU wanted to give mem­bers the abil­ity to se­curely ap­ply and track their mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tions.

“We have been look­ing at phas­ing into more of a teller-less en­vi­ron­ment,” said South­west Fi­nan­cial Fed­eral Credit Union’s CEO Me­lanie Kennedy. “So we were look­ing for in­te­grated teller solutions.”

The CU worked with Dallas-based POPIN Video Col­lab­o­ra­tion to make it hap­pen. “This was even bet­ter than an in­te­grated teller so­lu­tion for us be­cause you didn’t have to go to a des­ig­nated spot,” said Kennedy adding that the CU is the first FI in Texas to of­fer this mo­bile face-to-face bank­ing so­lu­tion. “You can be any­where and do any­thing with the ex­cep­tion of cash.”

The $65 mil­lion Dallas-based South­west Fi­nan­cial FCU serves 10,768 mem­bers. Of these mem­bers, roughly 6,000 are com­bined ac­tive mo­bile and on­line bank­ing users.

POPIN Founder and CEO Gene Pranger said South­west Fi­nan­cial FCU will soon be joined by two more Texas-based credit unions that are cur­rently in beta test­ing phase.

“The big­gest pain point in the credit union in­dus­try is for the smaller in­sti­tu­tions and the rea­son is they can­not af­ford a brick-and-mor­tar re­tail dis­tri­bu­tion strat­egy be­cause of the cost,” said Pranger. “This [POPIN] is an ex­cel­lent way to cre­ate reach among mem­bers as well as ef­fec­tively serve them at the mo­ment of need.”

Depend­ing on how a credit union is con­fig­ured and how much beta test­ing is re­quired, Pranger said the POPIN Video Bank­ing Col­lab­o­ra­tion so­lu­tion can be in­te­grated in as lit­tle as two weeks or as many as three months or more. Kennedy said that the process, which re­quired board ap­proval, test­ing, doc­u­ment up­load­ing and train­ing, took roughly nine months.

The Cu-branded app will be avail­able on PCS, iphones and An­droids. As of late Novem­ber, the so­lu­tion was still be­ing tested by em­ploy­ees and 10 se­lected mem­bers.

“We think it will be mostly used for ac­count open­ings and loan clos­ings, but there are so many more uses, such as stop pay­ments,” said Kennedy.


In an ef­fort to pro­vide mem­bers with real-time no­ti­fi­ca­tions of loan sta­tus, while stream­lin­ing communication with loan of­fi­cers and en­abling se­cure doc­u­ments up­load­ing, Vir­ginia Credit Union (VACU) de­vel­oped a mo­bile mort­gage app. “Most of the tech­nol­ogy these days is mov­ing into the mo­bile space, but the mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tion process re­ally lags be­hind,” said VACU’S Tech­nol­ogy In­no­va­tion Man­ager Heather Meaker.

To help meet the de­mands of its 263,000 mem­bers, Meaker and her team be­gan look­ing into app op­tions in April 2016, even­tu­ally part­ner­ing with the Lehi, Utah-based Sim­plenexus, a firm that de­vel­ops mo­bile apps for loan of­fi­cers.

“By giv­ing mem­bers cer­tain tools to uti­lize, they can be more in con­trol about their mort­gage,” said Sim­plenexus Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Joe Wilson. “So it works on both ends and is a ben­e­fit all around.”

Meaker said the app, which was a fi­nal­ist in the 2017 Gart­ner Eye on In­no­va­tion Awards, is be­ing ex­panded to all VACU’S mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tions.

Ap­prox­i­mately 220 VACU mem­bers were in­vited to the pi­lot with roughly 50 mem­bers clos­ing their mort­gage us­ing the app. VACU has 160,000 ac­tive on­line bank­ing users and 129,000 ac­tive mo­bile bank­ing users.

“Forty-three per­cent of the app users used the doc­u­ment up­load fea­ture; sev­eral sent more than 25 doc­u­ments. This was a much wider use of that fea­ture than pre­dicted,” said Meaker who added the app has re­duced the av­er­age com­ple­tion time of a mort­gage by 10 days. “We also learned that many mem­bers had al­ready pro­vided needed doc­u­ments prior to app down­load, which iden­ti­fied a process op­por­tu­nity for us.”

Though security is al­ways a con­cern, Wilson said a strong track record has al­ready been es­tab­lished. “We process up to 300,000 doc­u­ments from bor­row­ers to lenders each month; so sev­eral mil­lion bor­row­ers have used the plat­form and we haven’t had one doc­u­ment kicked back to us from a lender for any rea­son,” said Wilson.

Look­ing for­ward, Meaker is ex­pect­ing to add an ad­di­tional 160 loans to the CU’S port­fo­lio in 2018 “with­out staff in­creases.”

A South­west Fi­nan­cial Fed­eral Credit Union rep­re­sen­ta­tive uses the CU’S video chat sys­tem for mem­bers.

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