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Hip Pocket’s web app helps Union Bank & Trust talk with customers

In the past 25 years, walk-in traffic at banks has dropped 90 percent.

And with that decline, so has the opportunity to talk with customers. 

Online banking, mobile banking and the shift to all things digital has changed how banks have to operate and Nebraska’s Union Bank & Trust is trying out a tool it hopes will bring customers back into the conversation in a creative way.

Union Bank launched a web app Monday created by Hip Pocket, a company started by Mark Zmarzly during Startup Weekend Lincoln in 2012 and grown during the first class of the NMotion accelerator last year. The Lincolnite quit his full-time job in April to put more time into Hip Pocket.

Hip Pocket provides an integrated JavaScript software application for banks and credit unions to use on their websites to generate more loans.

Users input age, marital status, ZIP code, credit score estimation and current financial information (current loan balance, remaining term, interest rate) and then view how they compare versus their peers’ interest rate.

If your rate is too high compared to your peers, Union Bank will offer to refinance your mortgage.

“Logically, it takes a lot of work—appraisals, paperwork—to start the process of refinancing a mortgage,” Zmarzly said. “People just aren’t wired like that, but if you make it a ‘competition’ we start to think of it in a different way.

“Emotionally and psychologically, people don’t like to fall behind their peers.”

Zmarzly has a background in the banking industry and says he’s witnessed firsthand that few people know what kinds of deals they’re actually getting.

“For years, I’ve always helped banks make more money, but now I sleep easier at night knowing I’m helping people pay less money for their loans,” Zmarzly said. “Now I’m helping people save money to do things that are more meaningful to them and their families.”

Union Bank is the first to use the white-labeled software as a service, but Zmarzly has been pitching banks across the country. Other coming versions of the app can compare retirement goals, auto loans and more. 

Banking isn’t the most forward-thinking industry, Zmarzly says. 

“It takes time to build that critical mass for wide adoption,” he said. 

But he’s got high hopes for the comparison tool. Over the holiday weekend, the app was live, but buried deep on the site. Yet someone found it and had already contacted a banker about refinancing.