Life doesn’t stop while on vacation. It may be more hectic. Members are looking for (expecting) convenient access to those essential applications for assistance while juggling transportation, itineraries, travel disruptions, and general travel-induced stress. Checking their account balances, monitoring and making payments, accessing funds, freezing, canceling, and reissuing cards are all part of members’ daily routines whether or not they are on vacation.
And, when people have time to disconnect, there is increased stress that they may have forgotten something. Long gone are worries of unplugging the coffee pot or locking the back door (there are apps to monitor those things now). The real moments of panic come when a financial obligation question creeps into the member’s mind. Did I pay that? Did the automatic loan payment debit get posted? Was my paycheck deposited into the account? By having quick access to tools that answer these questions, momentary stress can be alleviated. If these questions cannot be quickly addressed, the moments of worry can increase stress and take away from vacation enjoyment. So, let’s talk about convenient features to assist members in getting things done while away from home.
Remote deposit capture is not a convenience feature that comes to mind while on vacation, but the need may arise. See if this scenario sounds familiar. That final run to the mailbox right before a trip to ensure the mailbox is clear before the mail-hold starts. A quick rifle through the mail to ensure nothing time-sensitive is in that pile, and there it is. That check you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. And it is an important check to increase the account balance. Options? Drop the check in the mail to the credit union or swing by a branch to make the deposit in-branch or at the ATM. An additional unplanned step. Tick, tick, tick. Time is quickly closing on the start of the vacation plans. Bring on the stress!
Today, the convenience of remote deposit capture enables members to securely deposit their checks anywhere they have cell service. Anywhere. Anytime. And what if multiple checks are received simultaneously (bonus points!) in that last mailbox visit? In the past, a member using remote deposit capture would need to create a session for each deposit, meaning that they would scan a check and then have to start the process all over again for each additional check. Today, remote deposit capture enables members to deposit up to five checks in one session. This raises the efficiency and convenience of remote deposit capture to a whole new level. And while the multiple check deposit feature is a time saver for consumer accounts, it is also excellent for sole proprietor accounts who receive multiple checks throughout the day. Those businesses no longer have to stress over whether they can make it to the branch before it closes.
Remote deposit capture history can be viewed within the application or as part of the transaction history. Consider the scenario where a member is digging in their backpack for the camera to take some amazing vacation pics, and they encounter a check in the bottom of that backpack. Panic. Was the check ever deposited? Members can view their history to make sure, and if it wasn’t deposited, then remote deposit capture quickly takes care of the task. Cross that off the before or during vacation checklist.
Members also panic due to the converse of the above scenario. They forgot to send a payment before they left on vacation, and by the time they get back, the payment will be late, incurring late fees. Fear not. Bill pay to the rescue. Members can conveniently send a payment to any business or person from their phone or laptop. And the fact that many merchants have set up electronic payments means that the payment may be there the same or the next day. Also, bill pay can be set up to make recurring payments.
As we mentioned earlier, inevitably, a question will arise during the trip while sitting on the deck of a cruise line or after a ride in a theme park: “Did you pay the rent for our daughter’s college apartment?” There’s that all too familiar feeling, as ice water begins to run through the member’s veins until they remember that the rent is set up as a recurring payment in bill pay. And, if they have not set up a recurring payment, the payment can be initiated in the bill payment app. Members are never too far away from their checkbook with bill pay, albeit a virtual checkbook.
A2A and P2P
Account-to-Account (A2A) transfer is the perfect solution for members who need to send a bill payment but don’t have enough money in their account. Using A2A, the member can transfer funds from an account at another financial institution into their credit union checking account. Once the funds have been received, they are immediately available for the member to send a bill payment - or to use for other more fun expenses, such as booking an excursion to swim with the dolphins while on their cruise. But what happens if the member went out to lunch before vacation with a friend and forgot to pay for their portion of the bill? Before embarrassment sets in by leaving the friend unpaid until the member returns from vacation, the member can send the payment using Person-to-Person (P2P) payments. And P2P is not just for settling up between friends; many merchants now accept P2P as a form of payment. Leave your wallet in the hotel safe. With P2P, renting an umbrella on the beach could be as easy as a P2P payment from your digital banking app.
Convenient deposit and payment access is a requirement of today’s members. Whether they are working from home, on the go, or taking some well-deserved time off, members on the move need access to their funds any time and in any location. Three years ago, electronic financial services were not the necessity they are today. The trifecta of the past three years: (1) pandemic, (2) remote work, and (3) inflation (potential recession) has made electronic services indispensable.
Remote deposit capture, bill pay, A2A, and P2P are valuable tools for your members to complete their financial tasks. But let’s not forget the elephant in the room hiding behind the curtains. All the efficient and convenient technology tools in the world are great, but not worth putting personally identifiable information (PII) at risk. If the member’s login credentials are stolen by a fraudster, then losses can occur, resulting in a time-consuming ordeal for both the member and the credit union. And who really wants to deal with fraud on their account during vacation??? (Good news: To help tackle these data security risks, we will cover security recommendations for your credit union and your members in our June blog series.)
With members having account access and payments at their fingertips anywhere there is a secure internet connection, financial stress during vacation can be reduced. There are, of course, other kinds of vacation stress that financial access cannot alleviate. But since you are an advocate for your members, the credit union can provide valuable guidance about reducing these other types of vacation stress through your newsletter articles. Consider something like this: “After you drop the kids off at the Kids Club, you can focus on some real R&R time for yourself.” Now that is real advocacy. Relaxation, at last.