LAUREL, Md.-Tower FCU has used an employee event to introduce its mobile banking offerings to employees, and that in turn has translated to high mobile adoption rates among members.

Tower's senior staff made "Mobile Mania" a part of the annual employee meeting, setting up multiple demonstration stations to let staffers preview the CU's mobile offerings before they were debuted to the public. Android, iPad and iPhone apps were available, and employees were able to use the apps first hand, including demonstrations of remote deposit capture technology and the ATM/branch locator feature.

TFCU staff also received stamps on green slips which were later turned in at a prize wheel to be redeemed for chances to win things like iTunes gift cards, credit union trinkets and other gifts. Employees also received "Mobile Mania M&Ms"-the candy having been chosen because of the letters. The event included a presentation from senior staff about the apps and a video which included clips of employees taking about how they use mobile apps and which ones they use.

That session helped Tower employees better understand the new mobile offerings, giving them the confidence to talk up and explain them to members. Result: nine months after launching the suite of mobile offerings, 31% of the CU's online banking users use one of the CU's mobile channels (including apps, SMS and mobile web). About 48% of the overall membership uses online banking.


Getting Employees Comfortable

The 124,000-member, $2.5-billion credit union also launched an app for the Kindle in August, although it hasn't promoted it much yet. Christine Bouma, e-services product planner, noted that there isn't the same level of demand yet for Kindle apps that exists for other apps, but she said that could change.

Android, iPad and iPhones "are used differently; the market hasn't taken off yet for a Kindle app," she said. "I think Amazon is still trying to get into that arena and trying to get more apps growing. I think we'll see that growth, but the Kindle Fire also has limitations-like wifi only; no 3G access."

Bouma said that allowing the employees the time to get engaged with the apps and give them the hands-on experience was invaluable when it came to rolling them out to the membership. "Once they were comfortable, then I think it was very easy for them to give members information about it," she said, adding that it was especially helpful for members who don't yet use smartphones or tablets and aren't used to working with mobile devices.

For CUs considering a similar rollout, Bouma stressed the importance of making it fun and interesting for the staff. Not only was it something different, but it helped create a sense of family and camaraderie, she said.




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