>YES LIVE: Pocketful of Credit Union
Golden 1 Credit Union (Sacramento, Calif.) is in the forefront of the technological wave of the future—mobile banking. Paul Sidhu, Golden 1’s manager of electronic commerce, shared his credit union’s experience with connecting its members to their accounts via their cell phones.
Golden 1 has offered text-messaging access since 2000 and wireless banking since 2002. Both options are free and allow members to:
• View account balances and transaction history
• Transfer funds between accounts
• Pay bills
Users also can look up share and loan rates and branch and ATM locations, and send emails to credit union staff.
According to Sidhu, the credit union provides security by not allowing high-risk transactions and features. For example, “there’s no way you can save your password on the phone,” he said.
Golden 1 has 680,000 members, 180,000 of whom are active users of online banking. Without advertising its wireless access option, the credit union has drawn 10,000 mobile banking users. Of the 1,600 using text messaging, 7% use bill pay and 40% are under the age of 30. Of the 8,500 wireless users, 60% use bill pay and 31% are under the age of 30.
In 2001, Wells Fargo pulled the plug on its wireless program which was limited to Sprint or Palm Pilot users. Learning from this mistake, Golden 1 chose to:
• Use a format that works on all cell phones
• Allow any carrier
• Design a simple format that is east to maintain
• Include a text-messaging option
Although mobile banking is still in its infancy, it is only a matter of time before it becomes widespread. In the U.S. 73% population owns a cell phone; among 18-to30s, the percentage rises to 90%. More surprisingly, 84% of cell phones have Internet ability, with an average life expectancy of 18 months.
And in some parts of the world with very limited computer networking infrastructure, such as Kenya, cell phones promise to leapfrog computer networks entirely to provide low-cost wireless transactions. In that regard, Verizon One’s recent announcement that it will eventually allow its customers to use its wireless network with other companies’ devices, software, and applications is a big step toward the inevitability of universal mobile access.