Platform Ensures Real-Time Updates

LAKE JACKSON, Texas-No cobwebs on the mobile banking applications at Texas Dow Employees CU (TDECU) here.

Members get real-time rates on their Android and Apple devices. Marketing can instantly flash up-to-the-minute new banner ads. No waiting for a vendor or application carrier to deliver the content.

TDECU can change rates and banner ads in less than a minute because the $1.6-billion CU uses a next-generation platform for its mobile banking application, according to Brad Clutter, online banking product manager.

At whim, TDECU can even turn mobile features on and off-features including the location-finder, social media links, credit card integration and product promotions-unlike most CUs running third-party mobile banking apps.

"I love the web-based admin tool, primarily because it gives us speed-to-market," Clutter said. "I log in to manage all content, whether it's updates to rates or font changes. I have total control, and you don't need to know how to write HTML or contact the developers for help."

The Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod apps were launched in April and are provided by FI-MOBILE, the Round Rock, Texas-based company offering mobile banking solutions to financial institutions.

The app platform, called UniFI, bypasses the traditional process of contacting the app vendor to make changes and then waiting while the application carrier approves the update.

"No other platform is offering the ability to change content on the fly and allow the member to see in real-time what's been propagated," said Dan Chaney, founder, FI-MOBILE. "All changes are automatically deployed across all operating systems without requiring the end-user to download an updated version."

Only "purely new" functionality, such as a third-party integration of mobile deposit capture, would require members to download an update, he said.

UniFI makes it easy to see how members are using apps, added Clutter. "The analytics piece is so attractive. We're seeing some impressive stats."

Not only has the number of mobile users jumped in six weeks to 12% of online bankers up from 4%, but 80% of people who visit the app are returning users, he said. TDECU offers a "robust" third-party mobile banking platform in web-based mode, and that platform is integrated with UniFI.

Members can click in the mobile banking app to use mobile-optimized versions of TDECU's Facebook and Twitter pages, said Clutter.

TDECU has "really experimented and made every change possible," using the UniFI admin tool, he continued. "We've changed ads, rates, 'About Us' information, branch and ATM locator information, fonts and colors."

UniFI's service-oriented architecture also allows CUs to instantly shuffle menu items, said Chaney. "With UniFI analytics, you can see which members are using what features and how often. If you realize you've set a feature as the third menu item, but it's not popular, you can get rid of it or push it down the menu."

UniFI was born of conversations between FI-MOBILE and "forward-thinking, aggressive" CUs, he said. Chaney said he learned that CUs were frustrated with available platforms.

"Credit unions had no capability to deploy one app across multiple platforms," he explained. "Thus, analytics were disjointed. The apps weren't configurable enough. You couldn't embed social media or import a credit card. The branding was generic. Even apps from different institutions looked the same. The apps were slow to market-but we can launch in 30 days. The apps were tied to the home banking vendor. Changes were a pain, with members forced to download updates."