4 min read

Mid-Market Hero: SAFE Credit Union Introduces Online Features To Compete With Big Banks

Faced with growing demand from customers for online banking services, SAFE Credit Union turned to a familiar provider of consumer accounting applications to introduce big bank functionality without spending big bank bucks.
Member Benefits

Palomino-Prim has observed some trends in the branches that may be attributable to FinanceWorks. "Our branch personnel report that their customers are wowed when they show them what's available to them through FinanceWorks," she says. "It makes it easier to sell checking accounts. In fact, our adoption rate is approximately 12% in the first six months of going live."

Intuit's Shulman explains, "Normally, the adoption rate of online banking facilities for banking institutions with long histories of online product availability is in the 10% to 12% range." The quick uptake of SAFE's members indicates the credit union has identified and filled a need among its members, both current and prospective.

Employees in the branches have noticed that members that have typically had frequent NSF (nonsufficient funds) instances seem to have fewer low-funds occurrences in recent months. While SAFE hasn't performed detailed analysis to link the phenomena, easy access to account information, combined with the account balance predictions that FinanceWorks delivers, make a compelling case that customers manage their finances more effectively when they have better access to information.

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Increasing Activity

SAFE is experiencing increased excitement from both its new and current members when they visit the branches. Palomino-Prim says, "We've seen a doubling of our e-bill activity in the last six months. Our members have told us that they want to do all their banking in a single session." Because the new online capabilities are comparable to or even better than the features offered by larger competitors, SAFE is now able to retain customers and attract new ones according to Palomino-Prim.

SAFE Credit Union Promo For FinanceWorks

The new capabilities have raised awareness in the community in general, too. Palomino-Prim made an appearance on local television, talking about the project. "We let people know the new tools were available and are free," she says. "And we've had significantly more traffic to our Web site, as well as an increase in new member accounts." Palomino-Prim believes the new facilities let SAFE compete and "maybe out-do" larger institutions by providing members with tools they didn't have before.

Staying Connected

Because traditional banking tools such as checking and savings services are widely available, SAFE believes that the addition of FinanceWorks will allow it to not only attract new members but to retain existing members by deepening their relationships. Many of their new members come to SAFE by way of referrals from existing members. Palomino-Prim explains, "These new services are part of our overall retention strategy and allow us to provide real value to our customers. It's not primarily aimed at getting new customers, but time will tell."

Many people who operate very small businesses use their personal banking accounts to pay for business expenses. An upcoming release of FinanceWorks will allow these users to identify transactions as "business" transactions, and segment those payments so they can track business expenses more easily. For SAFE, this new segmentation allows the credit union to identify those members that have small businesses and offer them advanced services designed to meet their needs.

As Palomino-Prim puts it, "These tools are attractive to a particular set of our members, and we see it as a hit because it's providing what they want. It keeps them happy and coming back to us. I think we're doing something right."

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Scott Koegler is bMighty's "Tech On The Go" correspondent. For his tips, tricks, and insights about how to keep a business running smoothly when you're on the move, check out his columns here.