Credit Unions Capitalize On Mobile Banking Trend

By Angie Picardo

It’s no secret that mobile banking has exploded in the past five years. As smartphone and tablet saturation increases, consumers have begun to expect that their financial institution will offer a free mobile application (app) for their mobile devices that provides services such as checking account balances, finding ATMS, and transferring funds. Additionally, most banks offer other on-the-go services, such as text alerts and sites optimized for mobile use.

Concurrent with the trend towards mobile banking has been the growth in popularity of credit unions. After the Great Recession, many consumers became disenchanted with traditional banks and began shifting their money to credit unions, and with good reason. In many cases, credit unions offer consumers better rates on products such as mortgages and car loans, as well as more personalized and friendly customer service.

Credit unions are also becoming easier to join. While many credit unions used to only be available to those in certain professions, such as military members or educators, credit unions are opening their doors to a wider swath of consumers. Statistics related to credit union membership belie these trends; according to the National Credit Union Administration a federal agency, which oversees federal credit unions, credit union membership in the United States grew by 743,000 in the third quarter of 2012.

Given these developments, it’s not surprising that credit unions have been hard at work developing mobile technology that can compete with that of major banks. Most national credit unions now offer their customers some type of mobile banking app as well as other mobile banking services, and some, like Twin Star Credit Union, have adopted state-of-the art technology to provide a truly superior mobile experience.

Quality and sophistication of mobile services vary significantly between credit unions. Check out the graphic below to see the benefits and drawbacks of mobile banking services offered by five large credit unions; note that viewing transaction histories and finding ATMs is a feature available in all of the apps listed below:

 

Credit Union

Pros

Cons

 

 

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Supports Apple and Android
  • Text alerts
  • Text commands
  • Specific transaction search
  • No tablet app
  • No mobile check  deposits

 

 

 

Twin Star Credit Union

  • Supports Apple and Android
  • Tablet app for iPad
  • Person-to-person payments
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile bill pay
  • Graphs to visualize spending and saving
  • Text commands
  • Secure messaging with customer service

 

 

  • No text alerts

 

 

 

Stanford Federal Credit Union

  • Supports Apple and Android
  • Tablet app for iPad
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile transfers
  • No bill pay from app
  • No mobile transfers between SFCU and external accounts

 

 

 

Freedom Credit Union

  • Supports Apple and Android
  • Tablet app for iPad
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile bill pay
  • One-click calling to representative
  • No text alerts or commands

 

 

 

Tower Federal Credit Union

  • Supports Apple and Android platforms
  • Tablet app for iPad
  • Easily view cancelled checks
  • No mobile bill pay from app
  • No mobile check deposits

 

 Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, a financial literacy website where you can find advice on topics from credit union advantages to answering the question, “should I get a joint account with my spouse?”

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