Many credit unions don't have the technology budgets to be at the forefront of every new technological innovation, but that doesn't mean they're behind the times, says Ted Thames, senior director at Cornerstone Advisors, a financial industry consulting firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Thanks to off-the-shelf products from financial software providers, many credit unions are able to offer a technology package to customers similar to that of large banks.
"I don't believe that they're ahead of the top 10 banks, where there's such a huge investment in online service," Thames says. "There are good (personal finance management) tools out there that are allowing them to compete. Most of them have applications for mobile banking, applications for iPhones and Android phones."
In fact, a 2012 survey by Boston research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey found 85 percent of credit union customers were satisfied with their access to online and mobile banking services, compared to 66 percent of large national banks.
Fred Becker Jr., president and CEO of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions in Arlington, Va., says most credit unions see upgrading technology as crucial to their continued survival in the financial services market.
"Technology is a leveler," Becker says. "It lets smaller institutions play with the big guys."