BOSTON-In 2013 credit unions stand the best chance of standing out in the mobile space-and driving greater member loyalty-by concentrating efforts around tablet devices.

That is the forecast from Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at the Aite Group, who just completed a study titled "Mobile Banking Forecast: Smartphone and Tablet Use in the United States."

Shevlin told Credit Union Journal that investments in mobile solutions, particularly around smartphones, are simply becoming the cost of doing business due to the proliferation of financial institution apps around those devices and how the devices are primarily being used. Yet there is far less FI activity around tablets, he noted, and it's those increasingly prevalent devices where credit unions have the best opportunity to create a point of differentiation.

Numerous financial institutions are designing apps for smartphones, apps that generally are me-too applications, pointed out Shevlin. "How much can you really differentiate your app and financial institution around the ability to move money, check balances, and conduct a transaction? The bigger opportunity is with tablets," he said, noting there are distinct uses for both types of devices.

The report indicates that mobile banking users will triple between 2012 and 2016, and that smartphones and tablets will each serve different banking functions as mobile expands. Smartphones are more transaction oriented, so apps tend to be more about expense categorization, alerts, and remote deposit capture, said Shevlin. Whereas tablets are better suited for more analytical and educational capabilities.

"Tablets are being used to read educational materials, analyzing investments and savings-for more personal financial management types of activities. Credit unions should be thinking about what could they do with the tablet to help differentiate themselves and create added value.


Little Competition, Big Opportunity

Not only is there less noise from competing financial institutions in the tablet space, there is not a high percentage of consumers managing their financial lives, added Shevlin. He pointed out there is significant opportunity to build relationships with a type of member-one who uses PFM tools-who gets engaged with their FI, and to increase their number.

"There is a great deal of value in creating a point of differentiation in mobile with these types of members. You find a way to double the number of members doing PFM, and give them a better and more convenient way of doing it ..."

Shevlin acknowledged extra costs can come with designing apps for smartphones and then for tablets, but noted it's possible to design once for use across multiple devices.

The report is based on a Q2 2012 Aite Group survey of 1,115 U.S. consumers. The study forecasts consumer mobile device use for a variety of financial transactions and activities. The number of U.S. consumers using mobile devices to conduct financial transactions and activities has grown significantly-Aite Group estimates that nearly 7,000 financial institutions in the U.S. currently offer mobile banking to their retail banking customers.

Among smartphone owners, 36% use the device to check their bank account balances, nearly three in 10 get account alerts sent to the device, and roughly one in six use it to transfer funds, pay bills, and view their monthly bill statements. Meanwhile, one in four tablet owners use the device to check account balances and about one in seven get alerts, transfer funds, or pay bills with the device.

For info: Aite Group:




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