Many financial institutions (FIs) have committed significant capital and marketing resources in recent years to add mobile banking options to their service mix and have seen significant returns on those commitments, according to a recent financial services technology study
However, from my own personal experience with a mid-market credit union and a top-five bank, those efforts could yield much higher results with the complement of mobile check deposit and convenient surcharge-free ATM access.
In fact, the packaging of all these services offers an edge for combatting a challenge FIs face every day: Attrition.
That’s what my Midwest-based credit union faced when a new job resulted in a cross-country move for me a couple years back. Early on after the relocation, dropping my longstanding credit union membership seemed inevitable, and this despite the credit union’s mobile banking solution already available to me.
Like many Americans, my spending habits are supported by a mix of payment instruments. While it’s been years since I’ve purchase gasoline anywhere other than at the pump, eating out at restaurants continues to be a cash-only affair and I have no plans to alter that chosen behavior. Also, I still receive the occasional check. For example, when I changed internet service providers, the account credit refund arrived in the form of a check. The point is: like most of my fellow consumers, I still use cash and I continue to receive checks even if I don’t write them myself. I had to have a financial institution relationship that provided me convenient options for managing both of those payment forms. If my credit union didn’t have local branches in the area I was moving to and skimped on surcharge-free ATM access beyond its home market, it had to go, mobile banking or not.
Preparing for that separation, I opened an account with a top-five bank, leaving only the transfer of funds left to do before my credit union moved my name into the attrition column. While it probably wasn’t a last ditch effort to retain my membership, at this important juncture, my credit union added mobile deposit. I could deposit checks again! The big switchover was put on hold. Shortly thereafter, surcharge-free ATM access improved; I could get cash in convenient locations that were part of my daily routine!
Although I lived 1,200 miles from the nearest branch office or on-premise free ATM, with the addition of widespread surcharge-free ATM access and mobile deposits complementing mobile banking, my membership was saved. What FIs need to understand in 2016 – and for many years to come as research continues to show cash to be a leading payment form – mobile banking can’t be a purely digital solution if they want to keep attrition away from their geographically mobile customers. Without the analog complement – the ability to continue handling checks and accessing cash by way of surcharge-free ATMs – mobile banking is a half-measure incapable of retaining accounts much less growing relationships.
As for that top-five bank account opened before ATMs and mobile check deposit saved the day for my credit union, I kept it for a couple of years as a secondary account. In the end though, it was another analog service (or lack thereof) that caused me to leave the bank. A full-service branch, in a major metropolitan area, without a coin counting machine? Sorry top-five bank with a snappy mobile banking app, but this is where I leave you.
Director of Public Relations