May 23, 2013

With just a single location and 4,000 members, Tri-Cities Community Federal Credit Union in Kennewick proved it can provide top notch customer service comparable to any big institution by rolling out its new mobile check deposit app for smartphones.

“Our customers wanted it and there’s good reason they wanted it because we don’t have 50 branches and deposit ATMs — we’re it,” Doug Wadsworth, credit union president, said. “It allows us — a tiny institution — to be just as convenient as a big bank.”

While the credit union is part of the sure-charge free ATM Network, meaning members may use one of the estimated 50,000 ATM’s located at 7-11 franchises, Target and Safeway stores for free, the only way they could deposit their checks without direct deposit was by coming to the brick and mortar location at 2626 W. Kennewick Ave.

“We actually had several frequent requests for it so we were really excited to get it out,” Wadsworth said.

The mobile app launched in May and works by letting credit union members send pictures of their check to be deposited. This makes it so they never have to step foot inside the building.

“You just lay it on the table, open the app with your phone or iPad, take a picture of the front and a picture of the back and submit it, that’s it,” Wadsworth said.
The credit union president pointed out an existing member as an example of someone who would benefit from the new technology.

Wadsworth said the member lives in the Tri-Cities but because of work spends much of his time outside the area. The only way he can get his check to the bank is by sending it through the mail. With the new app they can now deposit the check the same day they are paid.

“So it’s really easy for members who are on the far side of the Tri-Cities or work out of town or on a trip,” Wadsworth said. “It can really be a pain to have a check and need the money and not have a way to get it deposited.”

The app is compatible with most smartphones, although Wadsworth admits some of the cameras on the older models don’t always work. The new mobile app expense to the credit union ran at $4,500.

“That was really competitive,” Wadsworth said. “And it’s all integrated with our existing system so we didn’t have to get any new software.”

Training for the new technology was also a snap. Wadsworth said it only took his employees five minutes to learn how to process deposits.

When the app launched in late spring the business became the first Tri-Cities-based credit union to offer this type of service, Wadsworth said.

“Not that it matters, because we’re not really competing, but it’s cool that we’re small and we managed to jump into that technology that quickly,” he said.

Wadsworth attributes the credit union’s size for being able to integrate the new app so quickly.

“We’re not a huge organization that has all these policies,” he said. “There’s only nine of us that work here so if there’s new technology, as long as our computer people can develop it, we can turn it on in (about) a day.”

Even though he’s happy with the new app, Wadsworth admits there are still a few features he’d like to be able to offer to his members.

“Like right now there’s not a loan application that you can do through the mobile app,” he said. “So I want them to be able to apply for a loan through the mobile app.”
And while the credit union has had its regular online banking mobile app for almost a year now he’d still like for his members to be able to view account statements through it.
“There’s going to be more services and benefits of using that,” Wadsworth said. “Which really just means greater convenience for the people that use it.

Click here for article in the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Topics: Mobile Banking, Press Releases, Remote Deposit

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