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With Only One Branch, Arkansas Best FCU CEO Says Mobile Banking Essential
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 6:50 AM

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Although it’s not likely that the need for brick and mortar branches will come to an end anytime soon, there is a growing demand among consumers for online and mobile services, and credit unions that aren’t already offering this type of service should probably consider doing so in the near future.

A “Consumer Insights” survey just released by Dallas-based SWACHA reveals that 33 percent of those surveyed now use mobile banking applications on a mobile phone or a tablet, with 55 percent of those reporting they use a mobile phone. This is a significant increase from the 20 percent who reported using mobile banking applications on a cell phone in 2011 and just seven percent in 2009.

Arkansas Best FCU first rolled out mobile banking about two years ago, and according to the credit union, member adoption has been slow.

“We think the reason the reception has not been so great is because our members have to enter our url into Safari to access the mobile site,” notes Norma Meares, president of Arkansas Best FCU. “To remedy this, within the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a downloadable app through iTunes, which will include mobile banking, as well as several other remote abilities for our members.”

Meares believes these enhancements will make it much more convenient for their members.

Arkansas Best FCU is a SEG-based credit union that primarily serves trucking companies, which have employees all over the country.  According to Meares, only about 20 percent of their members are located in Fort Smith, where its one branch is located. 

“Because of this, it is very important that we reach to our members and potential members in whatever remote means we can,” she says. 

SWACHA’s “Consumer Insights” survey finds that the use of a mobile device to deposit checks was perhaps one of the most notable increases, with nearly three times as many people using a mobile banking application to deposit checks than reported in 2011. Forty-six percent surveyed are now depositing checks with a mobile banking application, as compared to just 16 percent in 2011, representing a nearly 200 percent increase.

The study also revealed a significant increase in the number of respondents who plan to deposit checks in the future using a mobile device. While only 16 percent planned on using their mobile device to deposit a check in 2011, 25 percent now foresee depositing checks remotely.

Another notable find was that 86 percent of those surveyed use a mobile device to check account balances and 35 percent use mobile devices to transfer money between personal accounts. There was also significant increase in bill payments from mobile devices increasing from 36 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2013, along with an increase in the transfer of money from personal accounts to others’ accounts from 26 percent in 2011 to 35 percent in 2013.

For credit unions considering offering mobile banking, Meares recommends a downloadable app that is easily available through iTunes, or Android.