Do Members Want a Mobile Wallet?

By Bill Prichard, Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, CO-OP Financial Services

Trying to provide your members with a full-blown mobile wallet is a nerve-wracking proposition. Which technology will merchants embrace? Will the iPhone 6 include NFC? When will members be able to leave their actual wallets at home?

Instead of rushing down this uncertain path, maybe it’s time to ask a different question: Do your members want a mobile wallet in the first place?

This question may seem counter-intuitive. How can it be that our mobile-obsessed members won’t prefer a mobile wallet? How is it possible that they aren’t waiting right now — ready to defect to the first financial institution that offers them the mobile wallet of their dreams?

Short answer: The real mobile wallet of your members’ dreams is still years away from reality. Meanwhile, members do want several things from you.

Get in now. You can participate in many existing mobile wallets simply by incentivizing your members to use your cards to make wallet transactions. CO-OP’s own Ryan Zilker recently wrote a great opinion piece on this topic for Credit Union Times.

Be mobile. Mobile engagement is a huge benefit for members. Think mobile check deposits, mobile banking and bill pay, mobile P2P payments and more. Users of Sprig by CO-OP enjoy these services — and look forward to new benefits coming soon.

Surprise, innovate. Speaking of new benefits, CO-OP will soon introduce CardNav by CO-OP card controls and alerts, which help members get the most from their accounts using their smartphones as remote controls.

Let’s get real. Also on the way: real-time online and mobile payments. That is, cardless, person-to-person payments that move in near real-time will soon be available for users of Sprig by CO-OP, thanks to the PayNet payment network from FIS.

What do these products and features offer that the dream wallet can’t? Members can use them now (or nearly now). As to speed: When the Fed asked survey respondents if they would prefer real-time payments, 69 percent of consumers and 75 percent of businesses said yes.

So, what if your members don’t actually want a wallet — at least not now? Why not focus on giving them the tools they want, the tools they can actually use now? Because while we’re waiting for the dream wallet to materialize, we’re all looking for mobile payment and money management tools we can use right away, in real time.

Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, using the power of aggregation to provide the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive, high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. Contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Craig Reed at creed@nwcua.org today to find out how Strategic Link can help your credit union save money while meeting its goals in 2014 and beyond.

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