Marine Credit Union in La Crosse, Wis. is moving to close half of its physical locations. While Marine has already invested heavily in digital and mobile, the pandemic only accelerated ongoing trends. We've seen glimmers of the accelerated move to digital in many industries since the pandemic outbreak.
On May 13, a survey from FIS Survey found that 45 percent of banked respondents changed the way they interact with banks since the outbreak. Thirty-one percent said they'll use more online and mobile banking going forward, while 40 percent said they now prefer to shop online instead of in stores. From the survey, consumers are also showing a strong preference for digital wallets and contactless payments over cash or checks.
Marine has 37 branches and will close half of them. It says that its customers want improved convenience, self-service, and availability, which is what digital banking gives them. Marine's investment in digital technology and talent includes more than $3 million in operating expenses per year.
“Marine Credit Union’s five-year strategic plan included significant investments in digital services for our members as a result of increased preferences toward mobile and online banking shown by the industry at large and our membership specifically,” said Marine CU President & CEO Shawn Hanson, in a prepared statement. “This trend accelerated during COVID. Habits have formed; consumers have spoken. Our ability to adapt quickly allows us to better serve members now and into the future.”
Marine's customers still needed to bank during the pandemic but with branches closed, this forced customers into digital. Those restrictions likely brought in customers who hadn't used digital previously, expanding Marine's digital-customer base. In fact, the credit union approved over 1,000 “completely digital consumer loans” and even launched a digital CD special.
The pandemic has magnified trends that were already underway. It's clear from Marine's example that credit unions are embracing the opportunity and accelerating already in motion plans for digital.