40 Years of CO-OP Innovation: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

40 Years of CO-OP Innovation: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

40 Years of CO-OP Innovation: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

By Diane Hile, Configuration Analyst IV, CO-OP Financial Services

This year marks CO-OP’s 40th anniversary, a milestone for all of us at the company and for the credit union movement as a whole.

Since 1981 CO-OP has championed the growth of credit unions, working side-by-side to promote their members’ financial well-being. Since the earliest days of CO-OP, I have been fortunate to be part of the organization and to witness the company’s amazing growth and innovation over time.

In 1986 I started as a part-time teller for Service Centers Corporation (SCC) to help put myself through college. For the next 12 years I worked in the branch, gaining a deep understanding of credit union operations, and experiencing first-hand the affinity members have for credit unions.

At the time, SCC was among a very small number of CUSOs to offer shared branching – a hallmark of the member experience CO-OP Financial Services provides today.

In 1999 I became part of SCC’s client care team, where I worked until 2002 when the company merged with CO-OP Network. In 2006 CO-OP Network changed its name to CO-OP Financial Services.

Since joining CO-OP, I have worked in several client-serving roles. In my current position, I help our client credit unions deploy the many products and services we deliver over the CO-OP Shared Branch network’s infrastructure.

CO-OP Then and Now

In the early days, company dynamics were much different than they are today. We were a small company. If a problem emerged, everyone huddled in a room together to figure it out.

Today, we operate on a nationwide scale and provide a comprehensive offering of products and services that keep credit unions thriving and empower members financially.

Over the years, CO-OP has forged numerous partnerships and completed a number of acquisitions as well. Two events stand out in my mind – the Credit Union Service Corp. (CUSC) agreement in 2007, and the 2011 merger with Financial Services Center Cooperative (FSCC).

Both organizations came with their own shared branch networks, which CO-OP quickly integrated into the company’s broader shared branch network. Today this network is 5,700-plus branches strong, extends from coast-to-coast and is recognized as the nation’s second largest financial services branch network.

Our Passion for Innovation

The growth and success CO-OP has enjoyed did not occur by accident. From the C-suite on down, our thought leaders and internal teams have always remained dedicated to driving innovation on behalf of our credit union community.

Our newest CO-OP innovations reflect this deep dedication, including Zelle, EMV contactless cards and CO-OP Digital Card Issuance. CO-OP Insights Center, which launched last November, provides credit unions with the member data they need to personalize offers and experiences for members. CO-OP’s investments in artificial intelligence are delivering value for credit unions and their members as well. We will also soon launch COOPER Fraud Score, a sophisticated, intelligent fraud detection platform that uses advanced machine learning technology to create a highly precise risk-scoring model.

Beyond Technology

While technology is the cornerstone of what CO-OP does, it is only part of the company’s fabric. As an employer, CO-OP offers its staff many opportunities to learn new skills, discover different parts of the business and advance professionally.

Today, I work on a small, tight-knit team. But I also have the opportunity to join larger teams and interact with a much wider group of people. I really enjoy making these connections and getting to know my colleagues well.

I am also excited about the formation of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council. The DE&I programs offered now are very informative and relevant to the times.

And, I love that CO-OP gives everyone a voice. A good example of this is our Co-Creation Councils, which involve both our internal teams and leaders from across the credit union community in the advancement of our product roadmap.

People Helping People

CO-OP’s commitment to our clients and the movement extends to our surrounding communities as well. Philanthropy is central to our company values, and that is important to me. I have attended many local events for our industry’s charity-of-choice, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. One example, which CO-OP helps sponsor, is the annual Cherry Blossom Run in Washington, D.C., which several of us from the company attend along with our credit union friends. CO-OP also partners with the National Credit Union Foundation to offer financial education resources and tools credit unions can use to assist members.

One thing I appreciate about the credit union movement is that people come first. We are about serving the member. Time and again, I have heard credit unions say that CO-OP upholds this ideal, which underscores our very mission.

As a company, we are continuously thinking about the member the same way the credit union is. Whether solving an issue or launching a product, we are always asking, “What can we do to give the member a better experience?”

CO-OP is a unique organization with a deep sense of purpose. That is what has attracted me to the company for all these years – and has kept so many other long-term employees engaged, productive and excited about what’s next.