As CO-OP Financial Service's THINK Conference kicks off in Chicago this week, President/CEO Stan Hollen reflects on how the company has evolved since he took over more than seven years ago.
"We were an ATM network and debit processor, and we were just starting to get into shared branching in Michigan," Hollen says.
"But we've changed a great deal since then," he adds, noting the diverse products the company features, all delivered through increasing numbers of new channels. CO-OP is the largest U.S. credit union service organization in terms of credit unions, members, and assets.
Image processing, including ATM image capture and remote deposit capture;
Credit cards, enhanced by CO-OP's strategic relationship with The Members Group to bring full-service program options to credit unions;
Shared branching, with the goal to become the largest branch network; and
A member center that provides outsourced call center and lending services.
Beyond products and services, credit unions turn to CO-OP Financial Services for our consultative role, Hollen says, especially in today's incredibly dynamic payments environment.
"They look to us as an R&D arm," he explains. "We look for innovative tools and products that we then can partner with and bring to other credit unions."
Business leaders speaking to credit unions during THINK this week will address the conference theme, "Disrupt Business as Usual." Certainly, Hollen has his own list of disruptors the movement faces:
Mobile. It's a "huge disruptor," he says. But keep in mind it's also just a channel, no different than the ATM or telephone. What are you trying to do through that device? Mobile and the trend toward it are significant, nonetheless.
The branching revolution. It will mean more automation and the deployment of technology at the teller windows, Hollen points out. It will mean the same number of teller windows but perhaps fewer tellers as self-service kiosks supported by video become more widespread.
EMV. The move to EMV chip cards will be a huge change, but a good change. It will reduce fraud even more. But it's a big undertaking for the movement, affecting merchant terminals, and all ATMs. CO-OP is part of the Secure Remote Payment Council that's addressing EMV standards and solutions to the Durbin Amendment's debit transaction routing requirements.
Credit unions are thriving, Hollen says. All the more reason to monitor emerging threats like the unregulated financial services sector, referring to entities such as Walmart, PayPal, and others who offer products and services geared to the "unbanked." These firms are a concern, especially in how they take transactions away from credit unions and reduce their interchange income.
CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan says a banker's threat to sue reinforces the need for credit unions to have a strong united voice in support of a proposal by the National Credit Union Administration to modernize rules that control who can join which credit unions.