RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — Last year CO-OP Financial Services revisited its mobile app offering and determined that to remain competitive, updates would be required.

After some internal woodshedding, the company turned to one of its trusted clients to help beta test the new solution that will launch in March.

"We are a member of CO-OP's shared branch and ATM network and we are a user of their mobile app. That is what led to the beta test," said Democracy FCU VP-Administration William Cook. "We have been testing the white label mobile sprig app, which will replace the app that we have used for the last six years."

With roughly 18,000 members, Alexandria, Va.-based Democracy FCU, formerly HEW Federal Credit Union, currently has 4,800 active online banking users and approximately 1,400 active mobile users. Cook said he was contacted last October regarding the beta test and joined two other credits unions in late December testing new features.

"We tested remote deposit capture (RDC) for paper check deposits and P-2-P payments," said Cook. "CO-OP has been very open and responsive to our suggestions. This was partly an education for us. For example, we weren't familiar with how P-2-P payments would work with our members."

The Beta Testing Process

Cook and roughly six other employees from varied departments, including IT and marketing, tested the app. Since $152.8 million-asset Democracy is a CO-OP shared branch client, they were able to easily integrate the beta model into its existing infrastructure less some back office tweaking.

While Cook and his colleagues have enjoyed using the updated version, there have been a few snags. "We were insistent that members were able to see details about their transactions so the screen would display more information that just 'withdrawal' on the transaction description," said Cook.

Amanda Smith, CO-OP's senior technology and innovation Manager, explained that feedback from Democracy FCU and the two other beta testers has informed the fully customizable and configurable updated mobile application that is set to launch in March.

"We have made some changes from a design perspective. With regard to the layout of the statement history information," Smith continued. "They felt there would be a more efficient way to see that information displayed, so that is an example of a change we implemented."

During beta test mode, the app was referred to as the "White Label Spring Mobile App." When it's officially launched it will not be a replacement for CO-OP's app, CO-OP Mobile, but credit union clients will have to download the solution to receive the updated services.

Democracy FCU is among an approximate 100 credit unions currently using CO-OP Mobile. The new version will also be available on iPhone and Android platforms.

Smith explained the updated solution can be customized and will feature account aggregation, account-to-account transfers, account history, back office client portal application to monitor and manage users, customized limits for RDC and RealPay, real-time, person-to-person payments in and out of network , integrated with Ensenta's EZAdmin solution and text banking.

"What we did was to take a look at our mobile strategy and determine if what we were doing was what we should have been doing," said Smith. "We looked at the products we had and asked if they met our clients' market segment needs. The mobile technology is moving toward a omni channel. That is the future of mobile banking."

Cook said that aside from beta testing, CO-OP has provided training and educational materials to better assist employees in understanding the apps features. Additionally, CO-OP works with credit unions on member-facing marketing campaigns geared at not only onboarding members to mobile, but turning them into active users.

"P2P payments are something we are really excited about with this app, especially that members do not have to be in-network," said Cook. "Our goal is to get more of our members online and using these [mobile] services."

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