In tandem with Apple Inc.'s release of its Apple Watch wearable device on Friday, at least two credit unions have already introduced apps for the Apple Watch product.
Charlotte Metro Credit Union (CMCU), a $325-million institution based in Charlotte, N.C., released its new mobile banking Apple Watch App on Friday along with new enhancements to its mobile app for iPhone and iPad users.
CMCU explained that the app is designed to "quickly deliver account balances, transaction history with running balances and loan payment due information." In addition, by using the secure iOS device, CMCU noted, credit union members have the option of seeing their current balances without logging in, applying for a loan directly from an iPhone or iPad; and see running balances on transaction history and loan payment due information.
Apple Watch is the technology giant's first new product in five years, and first without former CEO Steve Jobs.
According to Apple Inc., Apple Watch requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2 or later versions.
"It's a fast-paced world and at CMCU we aim to deliver all the mobile banking usability features our customers need to make managing their accounts easy, from wherever they are," said Bob Bruns, president and CEO of CMCU, in a statement. "We are thrilled to support our customers that use iPhones, iPads and new Apple Watches with the latest mobile productivity features."
Also, Greater Texas Federal Credit Union (GTFCU), a $557-million institution based in Austin, Tex., launched its Malauzai Software SmartwearApps for the Apple Watch.
GTFCU said its app will provide members who acquire an Apple Watch with "easy access to their most relevant banking information, including balances, transaction history for all available accounts and a branch locator." The credit union explained that it has been working with Malauzai Software, an Austin-based provider of mobile and Internet banking SmartApps for community financial institutions, since its original mobile app was launched in late October 2012.
"The Apple Watch app provides our credit union with an ideal opportunity to jump ahead of the rest of the market and offer our members the latest technology," said Brandy Conway, vice president of marketing at GTFCU, in a statement. "With its similarity to our current mobile banking offering, the wearable app requires no new hardware or software and will provide an intuitive user experience for our members."
While product-testing the app earlier this month, Conway had noted that the app "will be almost identical to the app we currently offer for iPhone and tablets. Because of that, we felt like it would be a good fit for us to be on the leading edge." Moreover, the banking app for Apple Watch will be an extension of Malauzai's SmartApp for the iPhone that is available to the credit union's 69,000 members, 20,226 of whom use online banking.
Malauzai Software announced separately that it has completed the apps for eight of its bank and credit union clients.
Apple Watch will include an option for Apple Pay—a mobile payment service that allows certain Apple mobile devices to make payments at retail and online checkouts—a feature Greater Texas FCU plans to add in 2016. And while there trepidations about functionality and adoption rates remain, Conway predicts that the transition process will run smoothly.
"From the credit union technology perspective, there will be no new software or hardware to install. There will be a communication piece that goes to our membership informing them that we now offer our app in the Apple Watch," she said. "Since the functionality is identical to our current mobile app there will be little staff training involved."
In a report earlier this month, Apple Insider indicated that more than 180 banks and credit unions are offering support for Apple Pay since the service's launch in October 2014.
Credit Union Journal reported in early April that in spite of some report of an uptick in fraud related to Apple Pay, credit unions are still rushing to add the service, chalking up the latest string of financial fraud tied to Apple Pay as the price for early adoption.
"To date, our fraud exposure has not been as high as some reported recently in the media," said Partners Federal Credit Union Chief Marketing Officer Mike Terzian.
Late last year, the Burbank, Calif.-based credit union rolled out Apple Pay to its 113,400 members. Currently, the $1.2 billion CU has 3,400 credit and debit cards successfully enrolled in Apple Pay, which equates to 2,200 of its more than 100,000 members leveraging the service.
"Adoption rates are difficult to pinpoint as approximately 50% of the membership use an iPhone or iPad, however many have not upgraded to the iPhone 6," said Terzian. "The approach [to fraud] remains multiple lines of protection from our members' awareness to our service representative's vigilance to our third parties' fraud protection tools."
According to Apple Inc., the company carefully authenticates customers every time a purchase is made. Additionally, Apple offers tools that identify the device name and current geographic location.