Channel optimization. Data management. Compliance and regulation. Cybersecurity. Aggregation services. For credit unions (CUs), keeping up with technology in all areas of business can be a significant challenge. Your CU stands to lose with a ‘Johnny-come-lately’ approach to innovation, however, so staying abreast is important to remain relevant in the competitive financial services industry.
Here are some trends you can expect to see more of in the next 12 months, and ways to keep up with technology regardless of the size of your credit union.
Trends to Watch
Current technology trends facing the credit union industry that you should be looking at include:
- Shift to mobile – options such as digital wallets are now reaching critical mass, so if your CU is not yet making cards available for use on this platform, you are definitely lagging on reaching top of app status.
- Using analytics – data is at the heart of everything financial these days. If a CU isn’t analyzing its records for information on members' shopping and spending habits to identify win-win situations, you’re facing a missed opportunity.
- The P2P payments playing field is widening by the day, with rising stars like Venmo and Zelle offering more sophisticated options than PayPal ever dreamed of. Make sure your services are compatible with all the digital options available.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gaining ground and confidence, taking financial institutions into new territory with respect to digital transactions. Robo Advisors potentially have the future capability to offer financial assistance without human interaction based on voice-activated prompts, and unmanned chatbots to provide certain website solutions. Along with Blockchain, this is a long-term play that warrants monitoring rather than immediate action.
- With the recent WannaCry debacle, security is a hot button issue once again. The rise of behavioral biometrics for effective security could affect mobile devices used to perform transactions, and this will impact the entire financial services industry--including credit unions.
It’s a brave new world out there, and to remain competitive in it you need to follow the changes, innovate accordingly and keep pace with the rest.
Become a ‘Fast Follower’
Competing for fintech innovation with the big banks, who have entire commerce groups and huge R&D budgets at their disposal, is practically impossible for smaller credit unions.
What’s not impossible, however, is to keep track of what’s happening in your target market and with your competitors. You might not have the budget to implement changes first, but make sure you’re ready to act quickly when you see a particular technology trend gaining traction. This approach has served the CU industry well in the past, when being in a ‘secondary’ position during the financial crisis prevented CUs from making the wrong decisions.
Stay on top of your trade press and keep up with the partnerships other financial institutions have with technology providers. This will clue you in as to what they may be about to offer to their clients, and if your processes are in place you can ensure you aren't left behind.
Leverage Core Processors
Most credit unions rely heavily on core process service providers, such as CSCU and Jack Henry, among others, for many of their technology requirements. By focusing on a participative approach that includes a good ongoing dialogue, CUs can encourage them to keep pace with changes.
The processors can provide much more than the basic functionality around account management and funds transfers, too. Make sure you keep them posted when members start asking about technological options, so they can be included in their market research at an early stage.
Listen to Members
A trusting relationship works both ways, and to provide your members with the right level of service and advice, you need to ask them for input—and listen to their responses, as well as understanding their level of proficiency with technology. That requires more than demographic information.
Look for out-of-the-box ideas to improve your members’ experiences, which will also differentiate your CU from the competition.
Maintain your place in the market by staying abreast of technology as much as possible, so members don't consider you out of date and irrelevant.