By Glen Sarvady
Everyone has their opinions on where the credit union and technology worlds are headed; we at BIG have been documenting our predictions for several years running. Although the navel-gazing part is fun, we believe it’s equally important to hold ourselves accountable.
Checking back on our 2021 predictions reveals some almost eerie accuracy. I cautioned that Google’s much ballyhooed entry into checking would not amount to much in 2021. In fact, Google’s dropping of the project became one of 2021’s biggest fintech stories. John foresaw the backlash against Big Tech spilling over into financial services, going so far as to mention Visa’s announced acquisition of Plaid- which of course wound up being withdrawn under fire.
I was unpersuaded by John’s forecast that by the end of 2021 we’d enter the "App Store phase" of Augmented Reality adoption but sure enough, Oculus headsets became the holiday season’s hottest gadget. We were hardly perfect, though- even noted Bitcoin optimist John’s annual price forecast proved too conservative.
With that track record in mind, here’s what we see on 2022’s horizon. Our first BIGCast of 2022 offers further discussion of these and other predictions. (Spoiler Alert: John and I are more in sync than usual, for better or worse.)
Smaller FIs open up to Open Banking- The groundwork has clearly been laid for a breakthrough, and John believes that with credit unions’ growing realization of their need for state-of-the art digital offerings, the stars have finally aligned. As a corollary, I predict that FI frustrations with the limitations of their legacy providers will escalate from whispers to vociferous venting.
Credit unions get serious about Crypto- I’m not predicting a head-first dive, but the proof of concept executed this year by PayPal and Venmo combined with consumers’ attitudinal surveys and the NCUA’s recent comfort letter-like clarification on third party partnerships open up the landscape. It’s not yet clear what role CUs will take in the crypto space, but expect their exploration process to begin in earnest.
Digital wallets clear an adoption hurdle- A key remaining barrier to adoption has been users’ continued need to carry a driver’s license/official ID, as well as at least one payment card for merchants that weren’t properly enabled. With eight states (and the TSA, at some airports) planning to accept a card loaded into Apple Wallet as valid ID, John sees a tipping point at hand.
Progress is not Linear- Don’t be surprised when the branch hasn’t yet died by December 2022, and consumers continue their bizarre ritual of frequenting brick and mortar stores. Although the long-term trends are clear I expect the rate of transition to slow temporarily- and possibly even backslide slightly in select areas.
The Metaverse will provide 2022’s “NFT Moment”- John points to the land rush in virtual real estate as a prime example. Check out our podcast for a spirited debate on this one.
Robotic Process Automation takes off, but be careful!- Facing talent shortages and ever increasing volumes, FIs have every incentive to implement RPA. Although John encourages such moves he also preaches a thoughtful approach to avoid creating a “rat’s nest” of code that hampers future advancements.
Real Time Payments pop- Here’s our biggest disagreement. John sees 2022 as the year real time payments truly take off. Aside from the use cases (B2B, instant payroll) that have already built solid traction, I believe this one is still at least a year off.
Feel free to bookmark this page in hopes of trolling us, but we promise to issue our own report card in twelve months’ time. These predictions also leave ample room for healthy debate- which we’re sure to pursue in the weeks to come.