Mobile Video Banking: Bridging the Gap From Brick & Mortar to Digital

By Gene Pranger, CEO of POPin Video Banking Collaboration 

21 Reasons Why Financial Institutions Need Mobile Video On Their Side Banking is definitely becoming more digital, but that doesn’t mean it has to become less human.

Gene Pranger
Gene Pranger

Around the world, time-starved consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels. Branch visits in the UK, for example, continue to decline as the average consumer makes only five visits per year.[i] Meanwhile, on the digital side, banking apps recorded a 13 percent increase in log-ins last year, reaching a whopping 5.5 billion.[ii]

Trailblazing financial institutions are responding to these dramatic shifts in consumer behavior by offering cutting edge solutions. Mobile video banking, in particular, allows consumers to interact with banking experts via personal devices at their convenience, while maximizing resources and resolving many major branch limitations for financial institutions. Today, four out of five bank and credit unions either already offer or plan to offer video banking.[iii]Through this technology, banks and credit unions can not only serve larger geographical territories at lower costs, but vastly improve the customer experience.

Benefits even appear to be more robust than originally thought. Credit unions in the U.S. already partnered with POPin VIdeo Banking Collaboration, the industry’s first interactive video solution, report higher close rates on loans, surprisingly high usage among the elderly, increased access to multilingual personnel, and reduced stress for busy customers and employees alike.

“If you don’t have a strong digital and mobile strategy, I don’t know if you’re going to be around,” says Lisa Huertas, Chief eXperience Officer at Texas Tech Federal Credit Union, which adopted POPin last year.“I don’t say that to be a doomsday person. Right now, today, you’ve got to be building those bridges between the physical and digital experience.”

Mobile Video’s Expected & Verified Strategic Benefits 

When first developing the concept of mobile video banking,POPin knew there were logical and strategic reasons why human interaction over digital channels made perfect sense. But as the numbers and success stories rolled in from real-world client case studies, one thing became clear—mobile video is literally changing the face of banking.

Consider some of the expected and verified strategic benefits of mobile video banking: 

  1. Maximized Human Resources: By consolidating employees into a centralized video call center environment, financial institutions can make their best and brightest employees available to more members, regardless of their physical locations.

In fact, South Bay Credit Union in Los Angeles, California, has found that members using its mobile video app often develop such a strong bond with their employees that they request to speak with their favorite representatives.

  1. Lowered Costs: The U.S. banking industry closed 1,700 branches in the 12 months ending last June, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.[iv] This represented the largest one-year decrease ever. Consulting firm PwC went on to project the number of bank branches in the U.S. will shrink 20 percent by 2020.[v] 

Following this trend, Texas-based Southwest Financial Federal Credit Union managed to slash operating costs by closing its brick-and-mortar branch in Houston, even as it continued to grow and serve members in that area through a new digital branch powered by mobile video banking.

“Since they’re not able to walk into the branch, we don’t have a big physical footprint,” says Luke Campbell, Southwest Financial’s Vice President of Sales and Service. “But we feel that our digital footprint is huge and there are no limits to what we can do with that.”

  1. Enhanced Retail Geography: Brick-and-mortar branches continue to lose cachet with customers, now ranking as only the third most important consideration when choosing a financial institution (behind online/mobile banking and no ATM foreign fees).[vi]Historically, branch location was the primary driver of perceived convenience, so its fall to No. 3 on the list of customer priorities indicates how dramatically expectations are shifting.

Southwest Financial took notice of this trend as well. The credit union covers a vast territory across Texas and Louisiana with just one physical branch in Dallas, making the strategic business decision to expand its coverage area by increasing its digital footprint while shrinking its physical footprint.

  1. Connection with Younger Generations: While a broad range of demographics use mobile technology, financial institutions are reporting surging adoption by younger generations. In fact, Federal Reserve Board research shows more than two-thirds of millennials are already using mobile banking.[vii] 

As these rising generations become comfortable video chatting their friends, parents, college professors, etc., it’s natural for them to prefer to communicate with financial advisors via mobile video as well, whether to ask a quick question or apply for a more complex car loan.

  1. Greater Convenience: Standard hours won’t cut it for today’s consumers. Convenience is king, especially when it comes to financial services. With mobile video, financial institutions can offer extraordinary opportunities for engagement at customers’ convenience to win their loyalty and trust.

Take, for example, Pioneer Federal Credit Union of Mountain Home, Idaho, which was able to significantly extend its hours with the help of its mobile video banking app. Pioneer now fields video calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, enabling members to change PINs, transfer money and more at their convenience.

  1. Attraction of New Customers: Self-service has its perks, but abandonment rates for online banking applications are at an all-time high of 97.5 percent.

Through a collaborative video banking platform like POPin, financial institutions can chat with customers and collect everything they need to open a new account in one sitting, including photo IDs, signatures and more. Such capabilities are transformative for the banking industry, as customers no longer have to visit a branch to set up an account—which is especially beneficial for attracting new customers and Select Employee Group (SEG) customers who choose financial institutions through their employers but don’t live close to a branch.

  1. Remote Services: Financial institutions can service almost any customer request over mobile video except for dispensing cash—and even that capability may be possible in the near future.

Customers can check account balances, sign documents, and report lost or stolen cards, even when they are working overseas or on vacation in another state. Added conveniences like these are why 93 percent of bankers believe interactive video technology increases consumer satisfaction,according to Efma research.[viii]

  1. Multilingual Access: AfterPioneer Federal Credit Union’s adoption of POPin, staff quickly discovered they could refer Spanish-speaking members to the video call center for immediate assistance when no multilingual branch representative was on duty.

The ability to provide multilingual support on an anywhere, anytime basis offers a huge logistical advantage for staffing and scheduling. Within the European Union, there are 23 officially recognized languages and more than 60 indigenous regional and minority languages.[ix] Even a sizable segment of the U.S. population—21 percent, or roughly 61 million people—speak a language other than English (with Spanish topping that list at about 38 million).[x]

  1. Brand Differentiation: In most markets, a myriad of financial options compete for customers, all providing similar products. Whether you’ll stand out usually boils down to customer experience. According to The Financial Brand, the No. 1 benefit cited by banks and credit unions offering video banking solutions was positioning their institution as innovative.[xi]

Texas Tech Federal Credit Union in Lubbock, Texas, is differentiating itself in the minds of its young customer base by adding mobile video banking to its digital suite, prompting local media to proclaim this innovative credit union “breaks the mold when it comes to banking.” South Bay Credit Union is also setting itself apart in the crowded Los Angeles market by providing a video service that maintains the personal touch of face-to-face interaction and allows members to do their banking from home (and avoid nightmarish traffic).

  1. Standardized Workflow: Maintaining a standardized workflow ensures every customer receives the same experience. A robust video banking platform allows financial institutions to develop and customize these workflows across product lines to best support representatives in providing superior service to customers.
  1. Streamlined Digital Collection of Documents: With a patented platform like POPin, within these standardized workflows financial institutions have the ability to collect and store all customer conversations and documents in a single location. The entire digital interaction (video, chat and voice) can be recorded and stored for future feedback.

“[The employee] is getting a loan signed right then and there, where in the past we were faxing it to the member and they were faxing it back and there is a lot that can go wrong,” says Southwest Financial’s Luke Campbell.

  1. Inclusive Experience: During due diligence phases, representatives often need to collect signatures from multiple parties (e.g., husband and wife, or son/daughter and parent). A collaborative mobile video banking app can easily obtain signatures from multiple individuals, whether during the live video chat by connecting another call into the conversation or offline at a time more convenient for the second individual.
  1. Collaboration vs. FaceTime: Skype, FaceTime and Cisco have mastered the art of face-to-face communication that has brought video exchanges into the mainstream. As a result, far and wide, millennials and rising generations are using video-based platforms as their preferred method of communication.

In the world of commerce, however, bare-bones video chat isn’t sufficient to transact business. Consumers need to exchange information, documents and signatures both in real-time and off-line, completing entire applications and processes while working with representatives—just as they would in person.

When asked what the Pioneer Federal Credit Union team misses via mobile video banking, Vice President of Operations Tracey Miller declared, “There is nothing we can’t do short of dispensing cash … [The experience is] just as they were meeting face to face inside a branch.”

Mobile Video’s Unexpected & Surprising Operational Benefits 

As POPin beta-tested its platform with a dozen financial institutions, client feedback was used to adjust and fine-tune the technology to create a financial-centric solution for banks, credit unions and their customers. Findings conclusively determined that mobile video delivers the expected strategic results. But in addition to these anticipated advantages, several unexpected operational benefits arose as well. 

  1. Loan Retention: Before Southwest Financial implemented mobile video banking, loan applicants often forgot to email, or fax required documents, leaving a frustrating pile of abandoned applications. The credit union now reports significantly reduced loan loss by improving its loan officers’ ability to capture necessary documents while in video calls to complete these transactions.

“I want to unplug the fax machine,” says Southwest Financial’s Luke Campbell. “I don’t want to use it anymore. … Having [the ability to get a] guaranteed signature has been the benefit. Our employees are saying their loan numbers go up because they’re not losing loans anymore.”

  1. Fraud Verification: Customers suspecting fraud on their accounts don’t have time to drive to a branch to resolve the issue—they need immediate assistance. With mobile video banking, help is just a click away via members’ smartphones and tablets. Conducting the call over video also adds an additional element of security, as employees can verify they are speaking to account holders through visual identification.

Jennifer Oliver, President and CEO at South Bay Credit Union, says her employees use their video banking platform to verify wire transfers rather than over the phone or making the customer visit the branch. “That was an unexpected benefit of deploying this type of platform,” she says, noting that it resolves a growing business problem nearly all financial institutions experience.

  1. Adopted by All Demographics: Initially, many banking executives assumed millennials would be quick to adopt mobile video banking because of their familiarity with communication technologies such as FaceTime—and that assumption has proven true. However, many financial institutions have been surprised to discover all customer demographics use mobile video for the convenience it provides.

Elderly members with limited mobility often prefer to conduct their banking over a video connection from home. This option saves them from needing to request or arrange transportation to a physical branch. As previously mentioned, Spanish-speaking members appreciate the opportunity to communicate face to face with a teller in their own language. Mothers of young children also appreciate being able to use a video app rather than transport their kids to the branch. And military members can now stay connected to trusted faces in their hometown even when they are deployed overseas.

  1. Reduction in Physical Branch Hours: Financial institutions can save costs by closing during slow branch times without inconveniencing customers. It’s easy to refer members who need assistance during those hours to the video call center.

“We use POPin Video Banking to replace our Saturday hours,” says Jennifer Oliver of South Bay Credit Union.

  1. Maintained Relationships with Relocated Customers: According to the U.S. Census, between 2013 and 2014, one in nine people moved residences.[xii] Of those, 9.7 percent moved due to job transfers.

Losing customers and accounts due to job transfers used to feel unavoidable. In the past, members simply felt they couldn’t take their financial institution with them when they moved too far away from a branch. That’s no longer the case—according to Southwest Financial, the credit union can now service all Kroger (SEG) employees no matter their geographic location or where they may relocate in the future. 

  1. Unplugging Antiquated Technology (Fax Machines): When I first started my professional career, fax machines were a wonder of efficiency. They were quick, convenient, and inexpensive. A fax was the expected standard in delivering written communication at the speed of an “analog data connection.”

Fast forward to 2018, and fax machines are rarely used. The vast majority of millennials don’t even know how to send a fax.As one popular blogger observed, “As a millennial myself, I think I have only ever used a fax machine once (and that was to send something to my father).”[xiii]

Luke Campbell at Southwest Financial said it best when he stated his goal to unplug all the fax machines in his organization. There is simply no need to have antiquated technology in the branch when the process can be simplified and streamlined through a digital platform. 

  1. Integrations NOT Necessary: Aside from a backlog of projects as a barrier to implementing new programs, the second reason financial institutions give for delaying or killing new projects generally involves integrations with existing providers and platforms. However, those adopting mobile video banking report no integration is required to get started and is even unnecessary as they roll out the solution in tandem with other providers. 

Some banking executives wonder whether their customers who already use their digital banking apps will also download and use a standalone mobile video app. Financial institutions that have implemented this new technology have indicated that standalone video apps do not create barriers or confusion and therefore do not hurt customer adoption. 

  1. Customer Response—The WOW Factor: Pioneer Federal Credit Union recently passed the 1,000 call threshold since releasing their my Pioneer Personal Assistant APP. Its numbers continue to climb week after week, providing the strongest evidence yet of widespread adoption as customers recognize the convenience it brings.

Jennifer Oliver of South Bay Credit Union says early users of mobile video banking are thrilled, and she expects usage to continue to climb. “Right now it’s a wow factor,” she says. “People think it’s cool. Down the road, I think they’ll start to think of video first rather than getting in the car and driving to us. And when that happens, that’s when we’re super-convenient.”

Without a targeted approach to building out the digital branch, consumers expectations might not get met—and they’ll start to look elsewhere. A 2018 study of more than 1,600 digital banking users revealed that 68 percent of Americans who have used digital banking in the past year have been frustrated by their experience. And a full one-third are willing to switch financial institutions for a better digital experience.[xiv]

Mobile video can easily provide the wow factor they’re looking for.

Consumers Want Time-Saving Technologies 

Busy consumers are searching for time-saving technologies in all areas of their lives. Banking is no exception. This dramatic shift in consumer behavior is driving adoption of digital banking like never before. Mobile video is the missing piece for many financial institutions that will allow them to bridge the gap between declining brick-and-mortar branches and rapidly rising digital and mobile apps. In fact, mobile video banking has been proven to increase the adoption of self-serve options because it enables customers to find quick answers to technical questions.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance evenless” seems to be a mantra of the modern era.[xv]As customers’ expectations change, financial institutions can harness the power of digital technologies to meet their needs. Two-thirds of banks and credit unions now anticipate offering both in-store video systems and mobile video platforms in the near future, according to a 2018 study of financial services professionals.[xvi]As more enhance their digital branches with mobile video capabilities, a growing number of customers will demand access to this technology—and the convenience it brings.

[x] “Languages in the United States”: StudyCountry.com. (http://www.studycountry.com/guide/US-language.htm)

[xi] “The State of Video Banking 2018: Trends, Stats & Facts”: The Financial Brand, Lisa Joyce, May 30, 2018. (https://thefinancialbrand.com/72684/video-banking-interactive-chat-trends/)

[xii] U.S. Mover Rate: U.S. Census Bureau, March 18, 2015. (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-47.html)

[xiii] “Millennials Don’t Know How to Use Fax Machines”: SmartTech.com, Brittany Wickerson, Nov. 21, 2014. (http://nextlevelblog.smarttech.com/2014/11/millennials-dont-know-how-to-use-fax-machines-and-other-insights-from-future-of-works-jacob-morgan/)

[xiv] “D3 Banking Technology Survey Finds More than Two-Thirds of American Digital Banking Users are Frustrated with Experience.” BusinessWire, February 14, 2018. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180214005136/en/D3-Banking-)Technology-Survey-Finds-Two-Thirds-American

[xv] Quotation comes from General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. “A Dislike for Change”: Fast Company, Jan. 12, 2006. (https://www.fastcompany.com/930982/dislike-change)

[xvi] “The State of Video Banking 2018: Trends, Stats & Facts”: The Financial Brand, Lisa Joyce, May 30, 2018. (https://thefinancialbrand.com/72684/video-banking-interactive-chat-trends/)