USAlliance FCU may have found the secret sauce to keeping its members mobile.

By leveraging global positioning systems, imaging and wireless carrier data, which limits manual text input and encourages a mobile-first and mobile-only platform, the $1.1 billion credit union has reduced mobile abandonment from about 80% to 35%.

"The credit union sought a more innovative technology that would enable potential members to quickly and easily open an account, apply for a loan or conduct an everyday transaction," said Kristi Kenworthy, AVP for E-Commerce at the Rye, N.Y.-based USAlliance. "With mobile being the fastest growing channel, and for some the only point of entry to our services, user experience became a point of concern."

With more than 80,000 members and 22 branches, USAlliance has an active mobile banking segment. In an effort to streamline transactions for current and new members, Kenworthy said the CU turned to the Alpharetta, Ga.-based Gro Solutions Inc.

The account opening solution is straightforward: it reduces data entry and can open and fund an account in as little as four minutes, according to Gro CEO David Eads. He added that more than 30% of all digital accounts are being opened on a mobile platform.

To date, Gro counts more than 100 financial institutions as clients, including the $4.2 billion, Apple Valley, Minn.-based Wings Financial Credit Union.

"Gro Account Opening significantly improves the consumer experience by minimizing the number of steps our new members must take to open a new account and become a fully engaged member," said John Wagner, SVP of member services at Wings Financial, which supports 205,000 members.

Too Many Key Strokes

Among the reasons USAlliance launched Gro's Account Opening solution in early 2015 was to reduce the amount of data users had to manually type. Kenworthy wanted to step away from the "desktop experience" as well as "asking unnecessary questions, all leading to a high abandonment rate."

By staggering the rollout of the solution, USAlliance was able to launch the native app on iPad devices in select branch locations.

"After gathering feedback from staff and new members, we made several improvements and then expanded our roll out," Kenworthy noted. "Phase two included mobile web and integration into our Android/Apple mobile apps in June 2015."

Gro's Eads said that a typical project should be completed and released in three to four months. In order to meet this timeline, he added that executives must have milestones and goals in place. Team members should be assigned different roles such as overseeing the email server and connectivity.

"Like any important project, the key is for the credit union to have an organized project in place and to be ready to articulate their strategy and configuration specifics," said Eads. "It's also key to identify the needed players ahead of time."

To ensure a smooth process, USAlliance FCU's e-commerce and marketing teams worked in conjunction with the Gro employees. "Using a cross-function team approach and setting clear goals and objectives was also key to the project's success," said Kenworthy.

Whether a CU has a large or small information technology department, Gro handles hosting, implementation and integration. "We will train associates on how to get the most out of the system, from various areas such as operations, underwriting, branch staff, marketing and member experience," Eads said. "Training can be held via webcast or in person."

Accounts GROwing

Currently, USAlliance's Gro-branded app is being downloaded 1,000 times per month. The solution leverages technologies like barcode, e-mail parsing and GPS location. "These features provide a secure and streamlined process," said Kenworthy.

Along with reducing mobile abandonment from approximately 80% to roughly 35%, USAlliance account openings have decreased from taking about 30 minutes to just four minutes (or less).

"Preliminary findings indicate we have roughly a 50/50 usage ratio of online versus in branch," noted Kenworthy. "That being said, many of our branches rely heaving on the native app to onboard new members. We currently have plans to expand the usage of iPads in additional branch locations."

To determine if this type of solution is a good fit, Eads said CU executives should understand existing account opening processes and abandonment problems as well as be able to answer the following questions:

  • Can prospects sign up online for new accounts and loans today?
  • How long does it take to open an account or apply for a loan at the branch or in the field?
  • What is your strategy for growth?
  • Can you define your new account strategy for mobile, online, in branch and out in the field?

"Credit unions must also ensure all groups that will contribute to the project are aligned with the same goals," said Eads. "If you are still exploring these types of questions once the project starts, timelines can be jeopardized."
Looking forward, Kenworthy said USAlliance FCU's members have an expectation to do everything on a mobile device that they could do on a desktop. To this end, transparent and ease-of-use mobile solutions have to be continually identified and implemented.

"Digital offerings are a big part of convenience and what consumers have come to expect," she said. "Providing access to our products and services using technology while maintaining a focus on the user experience is a big win."

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