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BIG News

16Jan

Banking With Alexa: What Works, What Doesn’t

The “fast-follower” strategy has been a perennial favorite among financial institutions. But that approach may be on life support. Global consulting firm McKinsey cautions financial institutions that they must now either be leaders or, at the least, very fast followers.

The leadership team at Numerica Credit Union has taken this warning to heart. With $2.3 billion in assets, the plucky Washington-based credit union became one of the earliest financial institutions to embrace Amazon’s Alexa, rolling out its voice banking assistant in March 2018. Numerica was one of only two credit unions to beta-test an Alexa banking skill created by Best Innovation Group in partnership with Jack Henry & Associates. (The other was Enrichment Federal Credit Union in Tennessee.)

“The very definition of the word ‘innovative’ means you’re not waiting around for a tried-and-true, fully vetted solution to fall in your lap,” exhorts KayCee Murray, SVP of Information Technology at Numerica.

For the ultra-competitive Murray, Numerica’s ability and willingness to quickly implement “fun new technology for our members” makes working for the credit union a blast. She also loves how it catapults the institution ahead of many competitors — including some very big banks.

“Credit unions get a reputation that they can’t keep up with big banks, because their technology budgets are so much smaller,” says Murray. Numerica’s Alexa voice banking play was “a very deliberate way to illustrate that the credit union can have many of the capabilities of a big bank, and sometimes even beat them to the punch.”

Differentiation can prove difficult in financial services, she observes, but being early into voice-banking definitely sets Numerica apart.

“We definitely want our members to know that we are forward thinking, and that we are always looking for ways to make things easier for them,” Murray explains.

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