A mobile experience

Something to talk about—Katelin Cwieka (l), leader of Avidia’s digital marketing team, with CarrieAnne Cormier (r), VP of Retail Operations and Strategy.

With a new PayPal partnership, Avidia Bank is ramping up its mobile offering for customers. And it’s not afraid to shout about it.

By Cheryl Winokur Munk

Avidia Bank of Hudson, Mass., has been ramping up its mobile offerings for the past several years. Now, the $1.3 billion-asset bank is forging ahead with the next phase of its digital strategy.

One of the bank’s most recent enhancements allows customers to make fast and secure purchases using PayPal’s One Touch technology and their Avidia Bank mobile app.

Customers who opt in can use the One Touch feature to link their bank account, credit card or debit card with a PayPal account and then seamlessly make purchases from any merchant that accepts PayPal, either online or in stores. By using One Touch, instead of having to sign in to PayPal for each purchase, they only need to set up their PayPal credentials within Avidia Bank’s mobile app once.

Avidia Bank is one of the first banks to pilot the program for FIS, its technology partner.

“We saw this as an opportunity to provide more convenience for our customers,” says CarrieAnne Cormier, vice president of retail operations and strategy at Avidia Bank.

“It’s the next step toward a fully integrated Avidia Wallet.”

The percentage of Avidia Bank customers who use its mobile app

While some banks are content to sit on the sidelines, Avidia Bank has been a forerunner among community banks in executing a comprehensive digital strategy. It’s always looking for ways to improve its mobile capabilities and has several enhancements in the works for this year.

Currently, for instance, customers can purchase digital gift cards and send them to friends, relatives, coworkers or others via email or text through the bank’s mobile app or using internet banking. The bank is also testing Amazon’s Ask Alexa technology for use with the Avidia Bank mobile app. This would allow customers to check their balances, send money to a friend, queue up bill payment and more—all simply by voicing a command. This feature won’t be live until at least the end of the year or early 2018, Cormier says.

Mobile marvel
Avidia Bank already has an impressive lineup of mobile offerings. Since 2013, it has offered p2p (person to person) payment services for Avidia Bank mobile app or online banking customers. Dubbed People Pay, it allows users to send money to anyone for whom they have a valid email address or mobile phone number.

Then, in 2015, Avidia Bank became one of the first banks to launch Cardless Cash, a service that allows its customers to scan a QR code with their smartphone and securely withdraw money at an ATM—without swiping or inserting a debit card. Avidia Bank created buzz about the rollout on social media, which led to a sizeable uptick in mobile-baking enrollment.

“We saw this as an opportunity to provide more convenience for our customers. It’s the next step towards a fully integrated Avidia Wallet.”
—CarrieAnne Cormier, Avidia Bank

The number of customers signing up for mobile banking continues to grow. As of mid-February, 64 percent of the bank’s customers were using the app. By contrast, 80 percent use internet banking—a figure that has stayed constant for a number of years. Cormier notes that Avidia Bank’s mobile banking usage is growing nearly two times as fast as internet banking usage did. When the bank rolled out internet banking in 1998, it took 13 years to get the same number of users that mobile achieved in only five years, she says.

Certainly, much of Avidia Bank’s mobile growth can be attributed to its aggressive promotional efforts. For instance, it ran a highly successful “Summer of Mobile” campaign last June, July and August. Each month, customers who used certain mobile features were entered into a drawing to have their winning transaction rebated to them. “This gave the branch staff something exciting to talk about and led to customers using new features that they hadn’t tried yet,” Cormier says.

Avidia Bank executives believe that having an active digital strategy helps it stand out from the crowd of local competitors. “For us, it’s a differentiator,” Cormier says. “Customers are savvy, and they want digital convenience. We want to be there to provide those services.”
In addition to differentiating the bank, Avidia Bank hopes its digital forays will make life easier for customers. The bank’s goal is to make banking as simple as possible for busy people who don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.

“Banking shouldn’t feel like a chore,” Cormier says. “You don’t want banking to be the dreaded thing you have to do. You want it to be as seamless as possible.”

Palm power
Avidia’s mobile banking app is multifunctional. Among other features, it offers PayPal One Touch and the option to buy and send digital gift cards through the app. Avidia is also testing Amazon’s Alexa technology, which would allow customers to talk to the app, rather than use a traditional touch interface.

Shhhh! Keep this on the download…
Now testing new mobile features

Cheryl Winokur Munk is a writer in New Jersey.