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BECU launches mobile banking app to provide additional member touch points

November 8, 2010

Mobile is a must for banks and credit unions

Mobile is a must for banks and credit unions

Seattle-based Boeing Employees’ Credit Union has launched a mobile application to complement its existing WAP site and better serve its members. 

BECU rolled out Qualcomm’s Firethorn Holdings LLC’s mobile application to its more than 650,000 members in the third quarter of 2010. The credit union saw an application as the next logical step in the evolution of its mobile strategy.

“We have to make sure we’re keeping up with competitors in terms of our mobile banking offerings,” said Howie Wu, vice president of virtual banking at BECU, Seattle. “We first launched a WAP solution about two years ago while we watched and waited to see where the mobile environment and the mobile banking space went.

“About a year later we told Firethorn that we were committed to them, particularly due to their exclusive relationships with carriers, which reduces the risk of having carrier issues,” he said. “The partnership allows for more seamless capabilities from a mobile provider perspective.

“Our membership is very tech-savvy and they want all the newest bells and whistles in terms of the products and services they use.”

Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, BECU is a nonprofit credit union owned by the members. Profits are returned to the members in the form of better rates and fewer fees.

With more than 650,000 members and more than $9 billion in assets, BECU is the largest credit union in Washington and one of the top five financial cooperatives in the country.

BECU currently operates more than 40 locations in the Puget Sound region. All Washington state residents and students attending Washington colleges and universities are eligible to join.

Firethorn’s technology creates branded and personalized mobile commerce channels that give consumers access to their accounts, offers and transactions while on the go.

BECU expands its mobile platform
Given the current state of the financial sectors, financial institutions are recognizing the advantage of having mobile strategies so as to increase customer loyalty and retention, per Firethorn Holdings.

The collaborative agreement between Firethorn and BECU will enable BECU members to manage their finances through Firethorn’s application platform.

The new mobile banking platform will give BECU members the ability to access accounts on the go using comprehensive encryption services.

Users can perform the following functions from their mobile device:

• View account balances

• Access transaction history

• Transfer funds

• Pay bills

• Make BECU loan, credit card and line of credit payments

Mr. Wu said that BECU strives to offer services that improve the economic and social well-being of its members.

“WAP was a stopgap, and we didn’t even want to consider SMS, because we feel it is a poor experience, as well as from a security perspective that data going through that particular channel were as secure, other than basic alerts,” Mr. Wu said. “Firethorn is our foundational product.

“From a strategy standpoint, we feel that applications are going to move us forward,” he said. “Eventually the mobile space will move towards the mobile wallet, we felt Firethorn was much better positioned to get us there—we’ll be prepped and ready if and when the market is ready for mobile wallets.

“A remote delivery strategy is at the heart of what we do.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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