Published on April 8, 2014 by Credit Union Times

By Robert McGarvey

ORLANDO, Fla. — Can mobile banking help a credit union better serve more unbanked and underbanked consumers?

That was the tantalizing idea behind a NACHA panel that brought senior executives from the $187 million Hope Federal Credit Union in Jackson, Miss., to talk about their mission of serving the economically disadvantaged in the Mid-South and how mobile banking helps them do that better.

Hope serves a vast territory, said Richard Campbell, Hope’s CFO. Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee are all in Hope’s geography. The credit union has 16 branches, with two more slated to open, but a key to bringing financial services to the people is putting it on the phone.

“We can’t compete in real estate but mobile banking lets us bring services to our members,” Campbell said at the session Monday at the Payments 2014 NACHA conference at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Hope’s region also has a sizable unbanked population, said Campbell, who indicated that 15% of the Mississippi population qualifies, a number twice the national average.

The region accordingly has a sizable number of alternative financial services providers, meaning payday lenders and pawn shops, said panel moderator Andrew Tilbury, chief marketing officer at Bluepoint Solutions, an imaging and document management company based in Henderson, Nev.

Many of their locations are looking more like traditional branches, said Tilbury, who added, “Except for the high fees.”