Ending the year right.

This year my team had some big projects that we spent the better part of the year working on. It’s been a good year, and we’re ending it on a great note, launching two projects of incredible value to our members in the last week.

Vancity Mobile App

On December 6th we released our iPhone App. Earlier this year we launched Mobile Web so members can use any kind of smartphone to do their banking in a way that is optimized for a small screen size, touch screen and browser. It was very important to us to launch Mobile Web first so all members have access to Mobile Banking. Then we could spend our calories on a really great app for our members with iPhones. Why iPhones? When we look at the metrics of site visitors to Vancity.com we see that of the traffic on our site coming from users on smartphones, the vast majority is from iOS. Over time we anticipate adding other apps for other devices, but with our member base iPhones took a clear lead.

I’ve written before of our partnership with Central1, the credit union central for all CUs in BC and Ontario. They created this app with major input from two credit unions: Vancity and Mt. Lehman. We focused heavily on the user experience, which I believe will pay off with members. In only a few days we already have 49 reviews of the app in the App Store, almost all of which are a full five stars. It’s a very rewarding experience.

And today we launched Interac e-Transfers. This is a standard feature in Canada which allows any Canadian to transfer money to any other Canadian via email or text message. All the big banks have long had this feature, but we had lagged behind. So it feels good to play catch up in this way and launch e-Transfers for our members. It is a much needed service, and now it’s available in Online Banking, Mobile Web and our iPhone App.

Launching these great new services wouldn’t be possible without great partnerships. I have amazing staff in my department who bring these projects to life, we have outstanding relationships with our colleagues in our IT division and our partners at Central1.

It’s a fantastic way to end the year, launching exciting new features, responding to the needs of our members who have been asking for these services for some time now, especially e-Transfers, and starting 2012 with the capacity to take on a bunch of new exciting projects.

So have a happy New Year, and here’s to a great 2012!

Co-opetition among co-operatives.

CU Water CoolerAs an editor of the CU Water Cooler, I will be writing occasional discussion posts there for a general credit union audience. My first one is on Nurturing Co-opetition.

I first leaned of this term from Scott Baldwin several years back when he was a peer at North Shore Credit Union (he’s now at our central, Central1). I instantly liked this term, because I knew that co-operatives competed in a different way than corporations. It’s also a term I heard a lot in Bologna.

We all have co-opetition in our lives. Kids do it in gym class, we do it when we play a board game with friends, and at Vancity we do it when we have a friendly competition between branches to hit a sales target. It’s a friendly competition when we’re not out to crush the competition, we actually want to see all competitors do well, we just want to do slightly better than them. That’s the way I feel about other CUs.

I chair the Direct Banking Strategy Committee at Central1, which is a way for BC CUs to co-operate in planning the future of MemberDirect, the online/mobile banking platform provided by Central1, and used by literally all credit unions in BC. I chose this as a great example of co-operative principle number six – co-operation among co-operatives – and the first of what I picture as a three-parter at the CU Water Cooler. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

NOTE: Here is the CU Chat Up radio show I just did with Carla Day and Jimmy Marks.

Listen to internet radio with Carla Day on Blog Talk Radio

Honoured and amazed…

The Top 10 People of 2009As I was getting ready for work this morning, I looked at my computer a little bleary-eyed and saw this tweet from Jeff Stephens. It was a nice way to start the day.

A few weeks back, Bank Technology News told me I had been named one of the top 10 innovators of 2009. I was humbled, kind of in disbelief, honoured and thrilled.

Today, they published The Top 10 People of 2009. I netted out in the coveted number 2-3-4 spot, along with Aaron Patzer of mint.com and Jeff Carter, CEO of azigo.com and co-founder of the Center for Future Banking at MIT’s Media Lab.

Bank Technology News wrangled us together on a conference call and published this story: Where Innovation Is, and Isn’t, in Retail Banking.

So, I guess this constitutes a good day…

Welcome to the new vancity.com.

Vancity

I am so happy to launch the new look of vancity.com today!

This was truly a team effort: Julie, our recently-departed designer, did an amazing job; Wendy, our usability expert and project manager, shepherded the project through usability testing and led the team wonderfully; and Roberto, one of the newest Canadians, expertly managed a lot of the content and big fixes. Our extended team at Central 1 did all the front end development and did a great job. It’s truly an honour to work with Vancity’s WEB Team (WEB stands for Web Engagement & Banking)!

I already blogged about why we made the changes, so I won’t repeat myself here.

Check it out and tell me what you think.

A sneak peek of the new vancity.com

VancityFor as long as I’ve been at Vancity, which is three and half years, I’ve been wanting to redesign our main website. We have some amazingly talented people at Vancity, including Julie our graphic designer. She has taken our current visual style and adapted it, bringing it up to a more appealing look. We didn’t want to give it a massive redesign, as the site basically works, and we didn’t want to jar our members too much.

On our current site below, our site navigation has always struck me as odd. We are one of those FIs who lump all of our products and services under the tab “products & services”. How many people think of themselves as buying a financial product or service? People need a new savings account or a loan or a credit card.

In a Forrester review of vancity.com in 2006, they pointed out that we needed easier ways to get site visitors straight to a product. So we added the Quick Links below to achieve this. When we added these links, I was skeptical they would do much. But a great percentage of the traffic hitting our main Visa page comes from this one link on our homepage. So obviously Forrester knows more than I do.

We changed the navigation so it reflects both our in-branch product literature, as well as the main products people navigate to on our website. The goal was to create a simple, attractive homepage that better reflects our brand graphic standards in offline media. We brought the site to 1024×768 because over the last two years we have seen the percentage of our site visitors who have a monitor sized at 800×600 or less shrink from about 20% of site traffic to under 5% today.

We also took this opportunity to upgrade the security certificate to EV SSL, so people on newer versions of IE and Firefox see the green bar in their browser bar when they come to the site, assuring them it is authentic and not a phishing site.

Here are some screenshots of the homepage and our new ATM/Branch Locator with Google Maps integration (click on them to a see a bigger version). What do you think?


The majority of site visitors log in to online banking, and now as they check their accounts, or pay a bill words like Banking, Loans or Investing are there clearly across the navigation. Financial products are not an impulse buy, we need to get in front of people while they are in research mode. Our new navigation should be more useful for our members as they can more easily get to information that was once obscured and is good for the company as we should see more traffic navigating through the site to valuable pages.

The new look of vancity.com launches April 9th. Come and check it out.

PS: Here’s a screen of the MyBusiness homepage and a MyCommunity page, as asked for by darrylh.