The Equalizer: Mobile App Helps Smaller CU’s Think Big

The Equalizer: Mobile App Helps Smaller CU’s Think Big

Only a rare few things in this world are inevitable—but if your credit union hopes to compete on a level playing field with the big boys, says Joe Menninger, President/CEO of Nashville-based Willis Credit Union, an effective mobile app has to be one of them.

A veteran in the credit union industry, Menninger identifies the right mobile app as an essential for success in today’s financial arena, regardless of your institution’s size. “It’s been a game-changer here at Willis Credit Union,” he said.

Willis CU, with assets of $15.5 million, initiated their CU Mobile App, a product of Member Service Solutions (MSS), under Menninger’s direction and went live on Feb. 14, 2014. Within six months, he reports, the app had been downloaded to Androids and iPhones by more than 400 members, with almost 50% of those members using the app at a rate of nearly 4500 sessions per month.

“One of our challenges had been meeting our membership’s need for convenience,” said Menninger. “They’re distributed amongst all 50 states, and it was inconvenient for them to transmit their funds to us by mailing or expressing checks or even cash—which we don’t recommend! Offering a mobile app that provides mobile branch banking convenience has created lots of growth in that arena—and has also fostered an increase in use of our other services such as new checking accounts and loans.”

He credits the app for Willis CU’s recent record-setting month in loans generated, totaling $885,000—an increase over last year’s record month. “Since the CU Mobile App includes remote deposit capture, many members who lack bill-paying capabilities through their primary financial institution can now write a check on their account held elsewhere,” he explained, “and use the remote deposit capture feature to send the funds to the credit union, where they’re deposited or applied to loans.”

A “Loan Request Form” tab in the mobile app allows members to complete and sign the form with their fingertip on their phone or tablet device. Members can also take a photo of their paycheck stub and digitally submit them together—allowing a convenient jumpstart to the loan review process, he points out.

The increase in new loans comes primarily from members who have received customized marketing messages created by Menninger and generated by the app in the form of push messages, which currently outpace text and e-mail messages by a ratio of 3 to 1 in terms of member response, notes Rick Hargis, managing partner of Member Service Solutions.

“Where a text blast might pull a response from 50 members, an in-app push notice could bring in 150 respondents from the same membership—a huge jump over traditional marketing methods,” said Hargis.

“In these competitive times,” he adds, “it’s not enough to just focus on a mobile banking app—we feel credit unions need to focus on a mobile branch app strategy that allows potential members to download the app from the App Stores to learn more about the credit union. Prospective members do not require a user name and password to log into the app. Willis CU is providing the convenience of branch services via their mobile app strategy—without bricks and mortar.

“You may think you can’t afford a mobile app, but you really can’t afford to be without one.” he concluded. Our mobile branch app cost the credit union less than $13 a day and we witnessed an immediate ROI from member usage.”

Menninger’s success in drawing on his experience and perspective from serving a larger credit union—and implementing that valuable mobile app strategy for the benefit of a smaller credit union—clearly demonstrates the power of the right mobile app to provide an effective vehicle for growth, and allow smaller institutions to remain competitive.

“Credit unions have to be on the leading edge of innovation—and a mobile app IS the edge of innovation at this time. You really can’t survive without it,” said Menninger.

CU Mobile Apps is available through Member Service Solutions, LLC in partnership with LSC ( and Volunteer Corporate Credit Union ( Additional information is available at or by calling (800) 537-9035, Ext. 105.

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