Everything changes. From the evolution of mankind to the technology we use everyday, nothing stays exactly as it was. Change and growth are inevitable. Take currency for example. As humans, we went from trading goods and services, to making coins and then bills (which held no intrinsic value), to paper checks, ATM and debit cards, and now electronic payments you can make right from your phone.
Within the finance industry, it is becoming more common to see multiple electronic payment options, including Zelle, Cash App, Facebook Pay, or even one offered by your bill pay provider. These person-to-person (P2P) services can be used for any number of things including paying your cable or cell phone bill, paying a friend or family member back, and making your daily purchases. I love that I can pay my babysitter with my phone. By simply initiating a P2P payment, I can pay her right away, no longer having to worry about having cash or waiting for a check to clear. I’m happy to have saved myself time, and she is happy that she received the payment quickly, so it’s a win-win on both sides.
Having such forms of payment is a secure and convenient way to pay for something versus having to carry cash. It’s fascinating to see how much the process of payment has evolved, and it’s only going to get more advanced as time goes on.
Gaining member insight
But what does the evolution of electronic payments mean for a financial institution such as a credit union? Well, for starters this could be a great way of attracting new clientele who desire the ease of new technology. In addition, some electronic payment methods give the financial institution the ability to charge a fee to members using this service. This would then benefit the credit union by increasing the amount of fee income they currently have coming in. This could also cut back on service costs such as ATM maintenance, tellers, or even back office staff as they would not have to manually work the transaction.
Many electronic payment methods allow the ability to initiate via a phone or from a desktop (this is to not eliminate those members who may not have access to a smartphone). Every time a member makes some sort of transfer using this method, the credit union can collect data on how their members are spending money, whether it be via a debit card, credit card, or a person-to-person transaction. This will allow the credit union to understand their members better. With the ability to collect data, the credit union will then be able to offer products and services that would be more beneficial to their members.
Convenience for all – not just the millennials
What does the evolution of electronic payments mean for the member? Nowadays, we want everything to be convenient and fast. We constantly have our electronic devices on hand (or around our wrist), so having the option to pay someone back with a push of a button is definitely appealing. No more quick runs to the ATM (which for some reason or another never seem to be quick) when we don’t have cash.
We all know that millennials are famous for their love of convenience and new technology, and as such, they are quite enthralled with P2P services. But offering these through the credit union will not just attract millennials. The younger generations are at the point where these services are no longer a benefit, but an expectation, and the older generations are becoming accustomed to using them as well. As these electronic payment methods become easier to use, even the most novice of users will be able and willing to use them. Credit unions are no longer ahead of the curve for having P2P services, they are the curve, and those without them are falling behind.
Aside from convenience, there are additional benefits for the member. No one really like paper receipts, so using this method means no longer worrying about writing anything down or keeping a paper trail as the data is stored for later review. Members will have access to all of their past payments including the recipient, the amount, and the date the transaction was initiated, whenever and wherever they need them.
To infinity and beyond
The evolution of currency will continue to evolve, and the way we spend will continue to advance. Technology and convenience are becoming the way of the world, and there’s little chance this will slow down any time soon. The demand for this type of electronic payment will continue to grow: just look at how far we’ve come to get to this point!