Smartphones and Credit Unions: Tips to best serve your members
January 22, 2024
Year after year, smartphones become increasingly ingrained in our lives. In 2023, Consumer Affairs research estimated that a staggering 325 million Americans ages 13+ own a smartphone – a whopping 97% of the population. And perhaps even more dramatic than the raw ownership data is the daily smartphone usage data. Americans spend an average of 3 hours and 43 minutes on their phones per day. But what are these people doing on their phones? The obvious answers are checking emails, taking photos, browsing the internet, and checking social media. But you may be surprised to learn that banking is one of the top ten most common activities as well, with over 60% of Americans reporting using their smartphones for this purpose and many saying it is their primary way to interface with their financial institutions.
So, what do we do with this striking insight? Beyond developing a sophisticated mobile banking app, here are some ideas for engaging with your members on their mobile devices:
Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Use
Internet browsing eclipsed desktop browsing over the past decade and continues to be the most common source of web traffic. Even for credit unions that do have mobile banking apps, it is still safe to assume that users may visit your website or log into their virtual banking portal from their phones. It is even more important for those organizations without a savvy mobile banking app to make sure that the functionality and features of their websites are mobile-friendly.
Have you ever wondered why some websites look really good on your phone and others look tiny and involve lots of side-scrolling and zooming in and out? The answer is responsive HTML. Designing (or re-designing) your website to be responsive makes sure that the text is optimized for reading on mobile devices and that things like images and features aren’t hard to find or interact with. This allows members and the wider community to experience the offerings of your website as you intended.
Mobile Alerts and Notifications
People’s smartphones are the nexus of all types of notifications and updates that impact their lives. From emails and work chat notifications to package deliveries, fantasy football injuries, and social media tags, smartphones field and relay it all. The real-time nature of these types of information is part of what makes them so popular – users find peace of mind with reminders such as knowing that their order has been fulfilled or that their flight is on time.
Bolstering your notifications system for banking-related information, especially smartphone notifications for mobile banking apps, will help better engage your members and grant them more financial peace of mind. Some of the most popular types of notifications might include transaction notifications, low-balance alerts, bill payment reminders, or deposit and withdrawal notifications. Notifications can also increase your opportunities for member engagement and financial services, such as promoting newly available options or reminding members to check their accounts regularly.
While upgrading your website or launching robust notifications may be costly, time-consuming, or require heavy engineering lift, there’s another turnkey mobile-first opportunity that offers measurable benefits for you and your members: financial education. While nearly all credit unions offer some type of financial literacy program, not as many have taken advantage of the incredible opportunities that mobile-optimized financial education offers.
Given the near ubiquity of smartphones, reaching people with financial education on their mobile devices is exponentially easier than most other avenues. Smartphones make this programming far more accessible and engaging than in-person classes or text-heavy resources like wordy blog posts or PowerPoints. This means members and the larger community are more likely to interface with your financial education offerings more often because mobile optimization grants them the flexibility to learn when is best for them, whether that’s on the subway to work or before bed or anything in between. Simply put, it allows you to reach more people, more often, more effectively.
Even better, mobile optimization lends itself well to integrating other elements of learning science techniques that better engage members and support their financial wellness, such as microlearning and gamification. By combining the powers of mobile optimization, microlearning, and gamification, you’ll unlock unbelievable progress for both your members and your credit union.
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Gamified financial education app for young adults