In June we announced an exciting development for the credit union movement: a digitization working group led by CUNA Chief Engagement Officer Greg Michlig.
This working group evolved from our COVID-19 Restart and Recovery Task Force, which in the course of its work found that the pandemic hastened the push toward digitization and credit unions absolutely need to be part of this transformation.
The members of this group have worked hard to define their scope, and they’ve set their sights high. As a strong believer in the power of credit unions to be disruptors in the financial services marketplace, I’m looking forward to what comes out of this group.
Credit unions’ digital footprint has grown for some time, but the pandemic and associated lockdowns hit fast-forward on the need to be accessible wherever members are.
Even our initial Credit Union Awareness research, conducted in 2017, revealed that potential members worried about credit unions’ ability to keep up with the big banks technologically.
This focus on digitization includes everything from your credit union’s smartphone app to finding new ways to underwrite loans to enhancing financial inclusion among underserved populations.
We’ve got our work cut out for us. Smartphone users don’t care whether a billion-dollar corporation or a credit union made their app, they just need it to be secure and easy to use.
Borrowers might not care what artificial intelligence algorithm financial institutions use to judge their creditworthiness, they just want to get their loans and put that money to work.
In addition to creating strong awareness of what’s driving the digital transformation of financial services, this group is looking hard at any and all opportunities, gaps, and challenges that exist when it comes to credit unions’ digital presence.
This holistic approach will allow the working group to present real, actionable solutions credit unions can plan for and act on.
Digitization will also provide an organic opportunity for increased cooperation between credit unions.
I’ve been known to refer to this as our “cooperative superpower.” It’s what sets us apart in the financial services marketplace.
Increased digital collaboration could give us a real leg up on our financial services competitors.
As always, our biggest strength comes when we’re together as a movement—not ABC Credit Union and XYZ Credit Union but as America’s Credit Unions, working with state leagues and CUNA to build a stronger operating environment to fulfill our mission to promote financial well-being for all.
It’s a great time to be part of the credit union movement. But even as technology evolves, the credit union movement will retain its constant purpose: do right by our members.
Whether those members pooled resources to help their neighbors get through the Great Depression or used their smartphones to apply for life-changing loans, the mission is, and always will be, the same.
I look forward to taking this journey with you and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of Credit Union National Association.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Credit Union Magazine.