Affinity Plus CU Expands Mobile Banking Platform With FI-Mobile

ST.PAUL, Minn. In a few short years, mobile banking has morphed into a must-have service. And while most credit unions are using mobile in some capacity, important lessons from the field are determining how to package new offerings.

"We had an existing mobile banking platform, but it only worked on the iPhone," said Affinity Plus Credit Union Chief Operating Officer, Keith Malbrue. "Our members communicated to us that they want to access us using Android, HTML5 and tablets, such as Kindles and iPads."

Malbrue and his team set out to find a solution that would cover all the mobile bases and ensure the $1.6 billion credit union's 184,000 members would have all mobile options at their disposal. This turned out to be a challenge.

"We looked at a number of mobile solution providers, but none of them helped us deliver our entire mobile strategy," said Malbrue. "Our board asked us to find a system that would grow with us and provide younger members with a tool that would allow them to easily connect with us and their money, and with FI-Mobile we did."

Mobile Launch

The majority of members who were using the original mobile platform did so to check balances and transfer funds via their Apple devices. FI-Mobile's CEO, Dan Chaney, said that Affinity Plus CU now delivers a full range of banking services unified into one downloadable app or through an HTML5 app.

"The remote delivery of services across mobile platforms is an imperative for financial institutions, which must deliver a great customer experience or risk significant membership attrition," noted Chaney. The platform also includes marketing and analytic features and can handle loan applications, mobile promotions, remote deposit capture and GPS, among other offerings.

Malbrue explained that a measured approach was taken during the discovery phase. "We took a while to launch and had multiple teams involved internally. We certainly could have and should have launched earlier than we did, but we were focused on delivering what our members wanted instead of rushing something to market."

This approach included an internal team that did extensive testing, but Malbrue was careful not to over analyze and have scope creep. When it came to training, every one of the credit union's 480 employees received one check to deposit. "They each went through the process so they would be able to speak about their own personal experiences with a member should they be asked," said Malbrue. "When everyone was comfortable with the offering, we rolled it out to lots of excited members."

Integrated Mobile Banking

Affinity Plus CU members can download the app from Google play or the iTunes APP store. They are then instructed to authenticate the app. "Mobile is our fastest growing branch and that is based on the last 30 days' worth of activity. We just rolled out remote deposit capture, which should push our outstanding numbers even higher," noted Malbrue. "We measure ROI using the analytics reporting built into the app. We can see things like geographic usage, user loyalty and ROI of individual services inside the app."

Moving forward, Malbrue said this mobile undertaking was essential for continued success. And while he concedes that a portion of the member base will take a more traditional approach to banking, other members will demand these types of advanced services.

"There is a contingent of members that will adopt this and use it all the time and it may even turn out to be a barrier of membership for them if you don't have this. This doesn't mean that your other delivery channels will see a significant decrease in usage," said Malbrue. "Mobile banking may just be the preferred method of banking for certain types of members and we find that members are looking for more services than just online banking transactions for mobile."