Article

A Banking Lifeline

pink smartphone with earbud headphone cord curled into a heart shape
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Photo
Contributing Writer
Fab Prose & Professional Writing

4 minutes

Canada's Atlantic Central offers a mobile banking app with features that eased the transition to pandemic life.

In Canada, members are finding new and better ways to connect to their credit unions. “Across the board, staff and members love using our mobile banking app because of its convenience and security,” shares CUES member Paul Paruch, VP/digital & payments for $6.8 billion Atlantic Central, the Atlantic provinces central banker and trade association for credit unions, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Our credit unions’ mobile banking app was a game-changer pre-pandemic, but now it feels like a banking lifeline.

“Not long ago, sending and depositing money easily from the comfort of home was a convenience; now it is a necessity,” explains Paruch. “Even those hesitant to trust technology or intimidated by perceived complexity have been wooed by the app’s ease, convenience and security. Now, individuals still receiving checks can take a picture and deposit the funds.”

Mobile deposits increased by 44% in 2020 for Atlantic Central, with a significant spike in Q2, right around the height of COVID-19 lockdowns. Access to online banking via a mobile device also continues to be more popular with members than access via a desktop computer (55.46% vs 44.54% respectively). And almost 35% of members exclusively use the mobile app for their online banking needs.

What are the favorite mobile features?

Atlantic Central staff and members reflect on the top three:

Autodeposit for Interac e-Transfers

“I love auto-depositing my e-transfers. Yes, it’s safer than a security question, and … I don’t have to remember the names of everyone’s family pets.” - Randi A., Newfoundland and Labrador

Interact e-Transfer Autodeposit
Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit (image used with permission from Atlantic Central)

Interac is a network that connects Canadian financial institutions, ATMs and merchants. Interac e-Transfer is a secure way to send, request and receive money through the network. Anyone with an email address or mobile phone number and an account at a participating credit union or bank can use the service without sharing any personal financial information. But previously, to accept a deposit through e-Transfer, recipients had to answer security questions through via an email link.

Now, members of Atlantic Central credit unions can set up the Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit feature within the mobile banking app, so e-transfers sent to a member's specified email address appear automatically in the account linked to that address. Paruch notes that using auto-deposit to accept e-transfers is more secure than security questions and is easier for the user because there is no password to remember.

Deposit Anywhere

“I work for a doctor who still pays me by cheque every week. I LOVE the Deposit Anywhere feature of my banking app; it makes depositing these cheques so much easier.” - Francine N., New Brunswick

Deposit Anywhere
Deposit Anywhere (image used with permission)

Although people rarely send checks anymore, the remote capture feature is convenient for those times members do receive paper checks, as there’s no need to visit a branch to make the deposit, says Paruch.

Lock N’ Block

“I was a pessimist and thought, who will use this feature? Ha! Recently my card fell out of my pocket when I was walking my dog on a trail filled with snow. I had two choices: option one, retrace the hourlong walk just taken, hoping my card would be visible, not scooped up or in a snowbank; option two, pull out my phone and turn on the Lock N’ Block feature to my debit card. Lock N’ Block it was!” - Nicole L., Nova Scotia

Debit Card Lock and Block
Lock N' Block (image used with permission)

Paruch reports that these card control features are fast gaining popularity in all segments. “If you misplace your debit card, rather than canceling it right away, you can lock it until you find it so that it can’t be used. This also makes it much easier if you end up finding your card.”

Other High-Ranking Mobile Features

Calculators

Members can use various financial calculators in the mobile app, including mortgage payments, loans, foreign exchange and retirement planning.

Face ID

This feature enables the member to log in quickly with facial recognition. “It also means you don’t have to enter a password each time you open the app,” adds Paruch.

Bill Payments

Staff members enjoy the fact that members can schedule bill payments in advance without thinking about it once the payment date comes.

The pandemic has changed business forever. “Consumer demand for frictionless payments and digital services has grown and will continue to grow exponentially in the future,” concludes Paruch. “Our goal is simple: to give members what they want, how they want it,  where they want it. These are certainly exciting times to be working in the financial services industry.” cues icon

Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs and served in mentorship roles before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists credit unions, industry suppliers and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.

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