Digital adoption among consumers has risen dramatically during COVID-19, spurring a rise in member expectations for what it means to bank digitally. While financial institutions continue to invest in the digital member journey, credit unions have never deviated from their original mission of “people helping people”.
“One of the things that fintechs did over the past 10 or 20 years is place consumers’ needs and journeys front and center,” said Tom Church-Adams, SVP of Pay Products at CO-OP, in a recent PYMNTS.com interview. “It’s something that has really stirred up the industry, particularly in the fact that they could move really quickly in building and launching new products.”
He continued, “What’s interesting is that the approach fintechs have taken is built into the DNA of credit unions already. Credit unions are naturally consumer-centric, member-owned institutions that always keep their members top of mind, because they are the only group they serve. If credit unions can translate the DNA they already have to the digital side, they are well-positioned to do something that every other institution is trying to do.”
What this “something” includes, is bundling digital services into convenient, accessible packages designed to meet members where they are today. Specifically, credit unions should focus their investments on meeting three key objectives:
- Improving members’ access to funds.
- Streamlining the digital experience.
- Provide exceptional service in a remote/touchless setting.
Providing Accessibility Through Payments
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, digital payment solutions were well on their way to becoming table-stakes offerings for financial institutions. Post-pandemic, implementing these solutions is absolutely essential.
“When looking at ways to get through this time, members are focused on speed, convenience and the sorts of tools that can reduce the risk of picking up the virus,” Church-Adams says. “For these reasons, the demand for digital wallets and contactless payments has definitely surged during the pandemic.”
Likewise, peer-to-peer (P2P) payments have grown in popularity during the pandemic, as members look for easier ways to send money remotely between friends and family. Zelle®, for instance, saw a record-breaking 1.2 billion transactions on their platform in 2020; and a recent Aite Group study found that 67 percent of banks and credit unions reported that their members are asking for Zelle.1
“We’re still using physical cards, but there’s been such an increase and uptake in online commerce and the use of sites like Amazon,” said Dr. Kathy Snider, SVP/group leader, Engage products for CO-OP. There has also been a surge in P2P payments, since “having alternatives that go beyond cash and cards – in a way that is contactless – is very important.”
As digital payments continue to rise, the need to be top of digital wallet will also grow. Just as instant card issuance enabled credit unions to get plastic cards into their members’ hands immediately, digital card issuance will be essential for giving members immediate digital access to their preferred payment method via their mobile wallet app, the second they are approved.
“Through our forthcoming digital card issuance solution,” says Church-Adams, “members can get access to their card earlier and begin making payments using their phone, on a merchant’s website or at the point of sale, and the experience is as seamless and as touchless as possible.”
Creating a Streamlined Experience
Credit unions can also deliver on the promise of a seamless, touchless experience through the use of APIs or “application programming interfaces.” These programming shortcuts help speed up the deployment of new digital services that are scalable, secure, reliable and customizable, empowering credit unions to offer a fully integrated digital experience to their members.
APIs bring an open ecosystem model to help credit unions keep up with digitally-savvy members, take advantage of data-driven opportunities, increase back-office efficiencies and grow — while also simplifying the work of bringing it all together.
Delivering Exceptional Service – Remotely
Lastly, the pandemic has taught credit unions the importance of continuing to provide outstanding service by employing a “curbside delivery” mindset.
“When we think about what ‘curbside’ means,” Snider says, “it’s safety and security and speed, and still being able to deliver exactly what the member wants and needs.”
What exactly is the credit union version of “curbside delivery”? It’s about ensuring that your credit union’s support channels deliver on members’ service expectations, and incorporate a range of fully remote channels like the member contact center, mobile and online banking, and digital payments. It also means maintaining resiliency and continuity of service through solutions like shared branches and ATMs.
During the public health emergency, credit unions’ “people helping people” spirit worked to their advantage and helped them meet the urgent needs of their members. As financial consumers rewrite their daily routines and preferences around remote digital channels, including contactless, digital issuance, digital wallets, P2P, and mobile banking, credit unions will continue to be there to support their members.
Tap into an ever-expanding roadmap designed to fuel growth at your credit union.
See CO-OP’s 2021 Solutions Roadmap to learn about products and services we’re delivering to help you become your members’ Primary Financial Relationship.