Offering banking text messag… errr, nevermind.

In July, I wrote about what I would like to have as banking or credit union consumer… the ability to text message my bank or credit union with “balance” and get my current account balance sent back to my cell phone. I figured it might be one or two years before my credit union offered it. One executive of a 55,000 member credit union said he doesn’t see a need for it, his members are not asking for it. (Note to CU executive: How are you not seeing the MILLIONS of cell phones used by EVERYONE around you? Who doesn’t have a cell phone at this point?)

But now I realize that banks and credit unions are perfectly fine not offering it. Because the new generation of Personal Financial Management (PFM) sites (Wesabe, Mint, Geezeo) will do the job nicely on your credit union or bank account, bypassing the financial institution entirely. So credit unions and banks, sit back, relax, and let the new generation do it for you. No problem. I’ve already signed up on Geezeo, and I may check out Wesabe and Mint just to find out the differences between these online PFMs. It took me all of five minutes to sign up on Geezeo and verify my cell phone for text messaging balances, and I never had to leave my home. Future blog post: Why PFMs will soon rule the world. (Quicken and MS Money are now officially 15-minutes ago.)

And if you don’t think that online PFMs are going to take off and skyrocket, that’s probably what you thought about P2P lending… who would ever do that? Just look at Prosper’s growth rate… at the current rate, in one year, Prosper’s membership will make them larger than the third largest CU in the nation. And that’s in only their first 2.5 years of existence.

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8 Responses to “Offering banking text messag… errr, nevermind.”

  1. Trey Reeme Says:

    You made my morning with this post!

    Spot on.

    The attitude of “our members aren’t asking for that” could kill credit unions.

    PFM sites and P2P lending are great examples of emerging industries that’ll have at least 8000 CU CEOs sweating soon.

  2. CU Communicator Says:

    Amen! A few words to live by …

    Consumers don’t ask for innovation, they FIND it.

  3. Tony Mannor Says:

    I will sleep well tonight. It makes me sick that some people see this so clearly, and others refuse to take their heads out of the sand.

    I don’t walk into restaurants and tell my server that “I want exceptional service tonight and I would like a delicious dinner” – I expect both without asking. If I don’t get either, I don’t come back.

    To carry the analogy further – When the first Sushi restaurant opened in my town. Business was slow but steady. In six months people waited in line for an hour to get sushi “to-go”. It was a 2 hour wait for a table from open to close. Now the town is flooded with sushi restaurants. But that one, because it was the first, has a reputation for being the best. Even though it is just as good as the 5 others that have been opened by the first guys apprentice chefs using his recipes and techniques.

    There is still an hour wait for a table at lunch. But people wait. Because they know they are getting “the best”. There is a ten to fifteen minute wait at any other sushi place in town at any time of day or night.

    So credit unions have to ask themselves. Do they want to be “The Best” or do they want to be “Second Best”.

    Some people are happy with being second best and second rate.

  4. Jean Garascia Says:

    I am on board as well, and I think your point applies to all financial institutions (even though I know this blog is CU focused) when it comes to implementing anything new. People want what they want, regardless of what institutions want them to want, and PFM capabilities and SMS–among others–are two among the list that can’t be ignored.

  5. Lisa Hochgraf Says:

    Agreed!! Or how about this one, not a PFM site, but definitely a cell phone-based service that CUs should know about …

  6. tinfoiling Says:

    Before I enter this discussion one simple disclosure. Mt. Lehman CU has been offerring text message alerts for any use of plastic along with balances for over 30 months now. Without much if any promotion we have about 20% of our card holders using this product. Do they expect this service? Yes it really has become integral in our product offerring. It is the best? Because no one else if offerring it in the same format as us (no other CUs are offerring it at all up here at all) there is little to compare it to anything else, so who know if it is the best. Does it fufill a need? Defnitely. Why? For a number of reasons and those reasons grow with different people using the product. Some of the reasons we hear for usage were never contemplated by us, ever.
    What I always find interesting is the conjecture by experts. In fact it is downright amusing how some perceive SMS and alerts without first hand knowledge and use of the processes. Sort of like you aren’t going to be able to swim until you dive into the water and learn.

  7. Morriss Partee Says:

    Hi Gene! Thanks for the comments! Wow, you are way out in front with offering text message alerts on your plastic. Congrats on that! Now if you just offer it for your regular checking accounts, you will continue to be ahead of the game. I’ve heard that there are some core processors that will be offering it soon. And those that are not, are racing to get there. My question is why is the U.S. lagging behind Japan and Europe in cell phone technology?

  8. We don’t need no stinking mobile banking! « World 2.0 Adventure Says:

    […] and I was worried about the PFM folks like Geezeo, Wesabe, and Mint who have ALREADY built banking/text messaging features into their platforms, and what that means for credit unions. Okay, good to know that we can ignore […]

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