WASHINGTON-With credit unions moving quickly to mobile, CUNA Mutual Group last week unveiled smartphone technology to help CUs make more auto loans-even allowing the CU to talk to members while they are on the dealer's lot.

At CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, CUNA Mutual Group introduced AskAuto, a downloadable smartphone and tablet app that offers credit union members vehicle information and loan application assistance to simplify their vehicle-buying experience.

It's technology that improves the car-buying experience, the member relationship, and keeps members with the CU throughout the car-buying process, explained Steve Hoke, director of loan growth products at CUNA Mutual Group and product leader for AskAuto. "It's easy to use, and will help credit union members shop and buy smart. This technology gives members the ability to apply for a loan anytime, anywhere, using their smartphone."

The tool, too, allows members to scan the vehicle identification number to learn basic vehicle information, such as average retail cost of the new or used vehicle and EPA mileage estimates. The application saves this information along with the member's notes and ranking preferences to allow for an easy comparison between vehicles before deciding to purchase, said Hoke. "Once a decision is reached, the member can also submit a credit union loan application through AskAuto."

 

Price-Comparison Feature

The comparison feature is really important to members, Hoke said. Forty-four percent of likely car buyers plan to use a smartphone to compare prices on the dealer lot, according to industry data, Hoke explained. One of the key aspects of the app is that it allows the CU, using GPS and patent-pending technology, to connect with the member and send messages back and forth to offer personal assistance at the time of purchase.

"When we designed the app we wanted it to be different from other car-shopping apps and find another way to keep the credit union top-of-mind throughout the car-buying process," explained Hoke. "We thought messaging was a unique way to do that."

Hoke said messages to the member, too, can be tailored by the CU based on the relationship the credit union has with the dealer. If the relationship is strong, Hoke said the CU would likely tell the member to go through the dealership for the credit union's loan. If the relationship is not that strong, the CU would likely tell the member to apply for the loan through AskAuto.

The technology uses CUNA Mutual Group's loanliner.com product, which is used by more than 500 credit unions nationwide.

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