A Message From Todd Mason: How COVID-19 Is Shaping Member Behavior & Digital Adoption

Our organization was contacted by the media this week to get our take on the U.S. Postal Service’s mail delays and any impact it might have on members receiving and paying bills. In our response, we reinforced the emphasis credit unions have been placing on digital services and encouraging members to utilize online tools. For example, the usage of remote deposit capture, eStatements, online bill pay, and mobile banking all gained even more significance when COVID-19 hit and will only continue to grow in importance and utilization.

Prior to the pandemic, some members may have viewed digital services as a “solution looking for a problem.” Today, these services are critical in the management of their finances. Beyond COVID-19, digital adoption helps lessen the impact of mail delays, bad weather, and any number of situations that could impede a member’s ability to conduct their business. The silver lining here is that members are more open to using digital services, including more of them and in greater frequency. As I wrote in a prior article, the increasing shift to digital, drive-through, and remote services will create habits and changes to member behavior that will endure past the pandemic.

A few months ago, contactless cards also fell into the category of a “solution looking for a problem” for some. Beyond the coolness factor, they can be expensive and merchant adoption is far from universal at this point, but COVID-19 is changing this though as members and merchants alike are trying to reduce touching and proximity to shared surfaces.

As a focus group of one, I always put my card into my shirt pocket before going into stores like Hannaford Supermarket to limit how much I touch my wallet, which doubles as my phone case. I try my best not to touch the terminal when inserting my card, but always do. Am I going to stop using my card because of it? No. Am I going to stop using my phone to make a payment when I can? Again, my answer is no. In fact, I will likely use it more. I am, however, thinking more about contactless cards, because I always touch my phone after visiting the grocery store to check my email, read the news, or call my wife on the way home.

Some of your members may be going through similar mental gymnastics too and changing how they pay as a result. The statistics bear it out. According to Visa, “tapping to pay in the U.S. has increased 150% year over year from March of last year,” which includes both contactless and mobile device transactions.

What should your credit union do about this trend? First, market to your members to keep your credit union top of wallet with primary financial institution status. In a recent discussion with Fiserv, they indicated that based on their research and experience, a sizable segment of members will switch and increase digital use of the card they have with you if you just ask. Not all will make the switch, of course, nor will it happen with just one message. To that end, we are working with Fiserv to create turnkey marketing and resources to help, along with our Marketing Services team.

Second, if you’re thinking about jumping into the fray with contactless cards, we have worked with Fiserv to speed your time to market 2 to 3 times faster than is available to most others.  Because of you and our collective voice, we have a dedicated queue with Fiserv, which will help us help you move more quickly through the process.

Last, lean on your team at Synergent. We are here to help bring the right team of experts and resources together for you, whether it is for something new or just making the most out of what you already have. As stated above, all digital services gained even more significance when COVID-19 began and adoption will continue to accelerate. We’ll bring all that we can to help you navigate through it.