As credit unions catch their breath in the midst of an avalanche of technology advances, they should place particular emphasis on enhancing members’ cross-channel experiences, says Belinda Caillouet, vice president of information technology (IT) for $1.8 billion asset Spokane (Wash.) Teachers Credit Union and chair of the CUNA Technology Council.
Also high on the technology radar this year are streamlining operations to trim expenses and evaluating and upgrading cyber-security measures.
Although credit unions should monitor payment systems, including the mobile channel, “it doesn’t seem to have the same level of hype it had in early 2013,” says Caillouet. That’s primarily because no market leader has emerged from an ever-growing array of providers and models.
“We can’t predict the future, but what we do know is that things are changing quickly and we must be ready to take advantage of opportunities,” Caillouet says. “You’ll need to develop a ‘learning organization’ that embraces constant change and responds quickly when necessary.”
Caillouet offers a closer look at these three areas of emphasis:
1. Enhancing members’ cross-channel experience. Credit unions offer members a wide range of product and service options. But often these channels don’t interact as seamlessly as they should, which can cause confusion and inhibit use.
“We need to remove the barriers we created with old business rules and rethink our processes,” Caillouet says. “We must create a consistent, intelligent, and personalized experience for the member. This includes being able to start a process in one channel and finish it in another channel.”
Caillouet recommends identifying systems-integration opportunities with the help of Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX) standards, and creating brand and functional uniformity among multiple member connection points.
2. Streamlining operations. “With some credit unions still experiencing weak loan growth, managing expenses continues to be a priority,” Caillouet says. “With the use of technology, IT can have a positive impact on expenses by creating efficiencies internally and for the business units.”
She recommends quantifying the effectiveness of longstanding practices, revisiting and renegotiating vendor contracts, and exploring the internal development of products and services.
3. Evaluating and upgrading cyber security. About 80% of credit unions cited protecting data and infrastructure as their top technological concerns last year, according to CUNA research. Those issues remain front and center this year, Caillouet says.
This will require credit unions to have the proper staff resources to test security solutions and respond to threats, she advises.
From a product perspective, many credit unions have accelerated their efforts to revamp their card services. The urgency stems from the 2015 liability deadlines for converting to EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) chip technology.
“With looming deadlines and increasing fraud, EMV cards or chip-enabled cards are starting to pick up steam,” Caillouet says.