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Credit union tech difficulties

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Friday, February 10, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

Despite the migration toward credit unions over the past few months, big banks are still beating their nonprofit competitors in one crucial category: technology.

In a recent Credit Union Times article, Robert McGarvey cites a Javelin Strategy & Research report to highlight the mobile banking gap between account holders at big banks and those at credit unions. Here is a key piece of info from Javelin's Mobile Banking, Smartphone and Tablet Forecast: 2011-2016.

Thirty-seven percent of consumers at the nation's four biggest banks used mobile banking in the past 90 days versus 14 percent at the nation's credit unions.

Do these numbers simply mean account holders at credit unions aren't interested in using mobile banking? Mary Monahan, Javelin's research director and the author of the report, doesn't think so.

"Many credit unions still do not offer mobile banking apps, and that is what they want," Monahan says.

While credit unions have distinguished themselves as low-fee homes for satisfied customers, Monahan is right. From making a deposit via snapping an image of a check to transferring funds to your friend, mobile banking means convenience, and that convenience is currently reserved for customers at certain institutions. As account holders continue to rely on their smartphones for directions, restaurant reviews and everything else, you can bet they'll want those phones to keep them updated on account balances, too.

This battle will go on, and smaller nonprofit institutions will need to determine how to keep up with the rest of the banking industry in order to continue attracting new customers. Because the past few months have painted big banks in such a negative light, I expect the industry's financial giants will rely on technology as the key point of differentiation.

I'm curious to see how important technological innovation really is to our readers. Would you move your money to a credit union that doesn't offer the newest mobile banking tools? What means more to you: the newest technologies or the lowest priced account options?

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