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Making the Most of Mobile and Digital Banking

What you'll learn: How to take advantage of mobile and digital banking


by Thea Mason

Three billion. That’s more than a third of the world’s population. It’s also the number of people who will have access to mobile banking services in 2021, according to a study from Deloitte. Across the nation and the globe, financial institutions have jumped on this trend, offering digital services ranging from bill pay to direct deposit to mobile deposit.

Credit unions are no exception. More than 77% of credit unions offer online banking and 57% offer mobile banking. These services allow credit unions to combine convenience with the local, personal touch that they’re known for. They’re also an important strategy for appealing to younger demographics: 88% of millennials do their banking online, and those numbers will only rise as Generation Z enters the workforce and begins doing banking on their own.

As head of deposit products at PenFed Credit Union, I’ve seen how these products can transform members’ financial wellness, helping them achieve their financial goals and increase their sense of financial stability. Here are some ways you can take advantage of these services and maximize their full potential.

  • Enroll in direct deposit. An impressive 82% of Americans use direct deposit — and it makes sense. Not only does direct deposit allow you to access your funds far more quickly, but it’s also a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach — no more waste of envelopes, checks, and stamps. 
  • Use a mobile deposit. Not everyone can benefit from direct deposit; many freelancers must invoice projects and receive individual checks for their work. This is where a mobile deposit can come in handy. Instead of having to drive to a branch and make a deposit in person, all you need do is sign the check, take a photo of it and upload the photo via your credit union’s mobile banking app. The check will usually validate within a few days, if not immediately, saving you the trouble of a drive and saving the environment the cost of your car’s gas and emissions.  
  • Enroll in bill pay. Nothing is more frustrating than a late fee. Just a few moments of forgetfulness can impact your credit score for years. By enrolling in bill pay, you can ensure that your payments are always made on time. Additionally, you can also ensure that you’re not being overcharged for services like utilities and cell phone data. Online billing allows you to review your bill before you pay it, putting the power back in your hands so you can dispute the charge if necessary.
  • Take advantage of mobile applications. We’re all glued to our phones; some reports say that millennials and baby boomers alike spend over 5 hours on their phones. The good news is that you don’t have to put your phone down to do your banking. Many credit unions offer apps that allow you to pay your bills, deposit your checks, transfer money between accounts, and reach out to credit union staff. Some even connect to digital payment services, like ApplePayTM and GooglePayTM. No need to carry around a credit card when you have the entire credit union in your pocket!
  • Create and access multiple accounts. In the old days, you had to make a phone call to figure out how much money was in your account or, if it was after hours, locate and drive to an ATM. Now, you can check your balance with a few clicks. You can even open different savings accounts to save up for specific financial goals, whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or a down payment on a house. Our members find this to be very helpful; rather than seeing one large pot of savings, they’re able to separate individual goals and see their progress toward them.

There’s a reason these services will reach 3 billion people within the next few years. They’re intuitive, accessible, and make managing money easier than ever before. Most importantly, they allow credit unions to accomplish their mission — giving their members superior service — on a bigger, broader, and better scale than ever before. 

Thea Mason is vice president and head of consumer deposits at PenFed Credit Union. PenFed Credit Union is insured by NCUA.