In the driver’s seat

Online, mobile options put control in the hands of banking customers

Posted on Feb 1, 2017 :: Banking
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Today’s quickly evolving world of online and mobile banking options gives customers more control than ever before, putting everything from account management to security monitoring in their hands.

Thanks to an ever-growing list of tools, customers can transfer money, pay bills, and, in some cases, even deposit checks from the comfort of home — or anywhere else.

Customers can access banking from computers, mobile devices and tablets, with options designed to offer convenience and choice when it comes to managing and accessing their money.

Jon Biskner, vice president of information technology for Nicolet National Bank, says online and mobile banking allows customers to do about 90 percent of what they could do when visiting a branch.

“It’s really about flexibility,” he says, “allowing them to do their transactions when they see fit.”

It comes down to consumers and meeting their needs, says Biskner, whose institution offers online and mobile products for both the retail and commercial side.

Laura Kahl, digital channel director at Associated Bank, says the bank’s customers can access and pay bills, schedule payments, set up reminders and transfer money internally and externally.

“We offer all the things customers would need to make their financial experience more convenient,” she says.

Mobile check deposit has proven extremely successful for the bank, with high usage among customers, Kahl says.

Associated and other institutions also offer Popmoney, a person-to-person payment option. “It’s an easy way to pay someone you know,” says Kahl.

This works well for situations like paying a babysitter or transferring money to a friend or family member, Kahl says, and Associated is working toward having the money appear in the recipient’s account in real time.

With many choices available, Lindsay Beyer, online services project manager for Fox Communities Credit Union, says her company works to meet all of members’ needs. “The challenge is being able to offer everything to everyone so they can choose.”

About 50 percent of members use online and mobile options at Fox Communities, but not everyone wants to bank in the same way, she says. Some people aren’t ready to embrace online and mobile banking, so the organization strives to provide robust options whether people want to bank remotely or in person.

Amanda Secor, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for Community First Credit Union, agrees. “We find that our members continue to enjoy the personal connection of our branch locations in addition to using our electronic services,” she says. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

Secor says electronic services give members the opportunity to get information about their accounts quickly and securely. Text banking, for example, allows members to send a command to check their account balance or history.

These options also give customers tools to manage and track their money more effectively, Biskner says. People can set low-balance alerts, choosing their own threshold amount.

While account safety is top of mind for many, Biskner believes online and mobile tools can actually allow for greater security. With quick and easy access, people can monitor their accounts more seamlessly and become partners in protecting them, he says.

For example, customers can keep track of transactions or set up an alert for purchases greater than a certain amount. “You’re the best defense,” Biskner says. “You’re the one who knows what you bought.”

Nicolet takes a proactive approach to security, Biskner says, trying to identify abnormalities before they become larger issues. “Security is taking a big step in the mobile world because we can tie a customer to their cell phone.”

When it comes to security at Fox Communities, Beyer says the credit union puts a priority on educating customers, and some of that comes down to deceptively simple measures. “It’s very good practice to change passwords regularly.”

The credit union ensures that vendors they work with have the proper security and encryption levels, Beyer says. Fox Communities members also can access, for free, IBM’s Trusteer Rapport. The software locks down the member’s connection between their computer and the credit union’s banking site.

The next tool in the fight against security threats is biometrics. Many institutions are working on implementing something akin to what Apple has with its Touch ID. Future options could include thumbprint and retina authentication or even facial recognition, Beyer says. “We’re really excited about that.”

As for the future, Biskner points out that electronic banking has only been around for about 15 to 17 years and is evolving quickly.

While most banks and credit unions offer Apple, Android and Samsung pay, its use isn’t ubiquitous yet. Biskner believes these options will be the payments of the future, however. Also on the horizon: apps that interact with ATMs without a card and a phone QR code that stores information, allowing people to avoid filling out lengthy paperwork. Mortgage signers rejoice.

“The move toward mobile has just begun,” Biskner says.