From the Top

Mobile is real and really here to stay

By Bill Loving

As a community banker, my customers always come first. And just like all community bankers, I make decisions based on what will be best for my customers. That’s because what’s best for my customers and community, in the end, is best for my bank. We, as community bankers, always aim to offer our customers the best of everything, and our technology is no exception.

That’s why back in 2004 Pendleton Community Bank began offering its customers online banking, and then in 2010 we began offering mobile banking through an app for both iPhone and Android smartphones. To complement these delivery channels, we rolled out commercial remote deposit in 2009, and within the last 60 days we brought on consumer remote deposit capture. And let me tell you, the response from our customers from that latest addition was huge! We knew it would be a beneficial product, but we were truly blown away by how many of our customers of all ages were interested in using the service as soon as it rolled out—just another reason why you should never assume anything.

Often our customers tell us what they want, and sometimes the highest demand comes from our least likely customers. I encourage all community bankers to take this into consideration as they evaluate technology and which products make sense for their customers.

Community banks are, as they say, “with the times,” and we need our institutions to be seen as being technologically savvy. More and more, consumers see technology as an integral part of their overall banking experience, so it’s important, if not imperative, that these services be part of a community bank’s overall customer service strategy. It makes good business sense, and it all goes back to our mission of doing what’s best for our customers and our communities.

The good news is that most community banks have products and plans in place to compete in this new age of banking. According to ICBA’s 2013 Payments Survey, nearly 80 percent of community banks plan to offer mobile banking services by 2015. While that number is good, I encourage those that aren’t part of that 80 percent to consider what this type of technology can do for their business and, most importantly, their customers.

I realize the cost of fraud expenses and risk mitigation associated with introducing new technology can be daunting to risk-averse community bankers, but I assure you that the opportunities outweigh the cost and potential headaches. It’s all part of our job nowadays, and community bankers are up for the challenge.

I encourage community bankers to take a look at ICBA’s 2013 Payments Survey on the association’s website. See how your community bank stacks up, and if you find that you have questions or just need more information, feel free to give ICBA’s staff a call or send them a note. They will be more than happy to help you find more ways to make your customers’ community banking experience even better, as we all learn how technology and payment offerings continue to be a big piece of that overall puzzle.

Bill Loving is president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va.