WEST JORDAN, Utah-Though the results don't always show it immediately, being an early adopter of technology has proven to be good strategy for Mountain America Credit Union as it has helped to build a culture of innovation.
As an example, Mountain America Credit Union is currently doing something a lot of major financial institutions are not: accepting mobile check deposits.
"We always try to look at things from a marketing perspective," said Tony Rasmussen, Mountain America's SVP of eServices. "We see Google and Apple shaping the future of financial institutions more than the financial institutions themselves, because the user experience is key. We felt the need for remote deposit five years ago."
Mountain American has enabled some forms of remote deposits since 2007, where members could "key the item in and then send the item to us. We have to do well in that space. The skids were greased by a lot of other mobile services, concert tickets online, airline tickets, etc. End-users are being flooded with convenience."
For its part, MACU started moving toward paperless processes 10 years ago, according to Rasmussen, "but the market was not ready to support that."
'Wildly Positive' Reactions
Helping members leverage the convenience of imaging checks with their iPhones and tablets proved to be the big winner. User experience has been "wildly positive" for Mountain America, which uses Bluepoint Solutions' mobile remote deposit-capture application, one of Bluepoint's Check 21 capture points.
"We launched mobile deposits last July," said Rasmussen. "In the first months we had 600 deposits amounting to $200,000. Ten months later we saw $4 million a month in deposits. We thought text banking would be more popular than the mobile app, but compared to mobile it has had very slim adoption.
"I think providing the right technology is both an art and a science," Rasmussen continued. "Look out into the marketplace to see what's available what people are asking for. And it's important to give people what they need or want that they haven't asked for."
Mountain America uses Jack Henry's Symitar solution as its core processing system, with integrating technology from Mitek supporting Bluepoint. While some of the CU's technology is refined in-house, "quite frankly, most of our custom development has been done by great partners. The one thing we can do better than anyone else is service our members."
Mountain America has 355,000 members and $3 billion in assets. Its 69 locations are supported by automated branch services.
Georgia United's Story
Another CU that adopted Bluepoint's mobile deposit tools is Georgia United Credit Union, Atlanta, with $930 million in assets and 112,000 members. "To be competitive we have to be convenient," said Georgia United CIO Mark Bartholomew. "Mobile deposit allows our members to have the features of a branch all at the touch of their fingers."
While Georgia United looked at other systems, he said, "We liked their flexibility, the fact that they let you customize on your end. We bought their whole suite, not just remote capture. We're looking at optical imaging and teller capture as well as remote. Our optical system was end of life."
Georgia United launched "with friends and family" in December 2011, did a "soft beta rollout" with 4,000 members in February 2012, and a full rollout in April of this year. "The product is very easy to use," said Bartholomew. "The only thing we had to do on our end was set the amounts for automatic approval."
Since launch, GUCU has had $1 million in remote deposits via 1,600 iPhone downloads and 969 Android downloads, with an average of 200 daily log-ins. It has not experienced any system connection issues.
"Analyzing our membership behavior and establishing our business rules was an evolutionary process," he said. "Internally there were many discussions related to how our members might use the product and what safeguards we have in place in order to mitigate our exposure."
Though remote banking still takes a back seat to branches for Georgia United, Bartholomew joined Rasmussen in endorsing remote banking as a key tool for CUs in building market share.