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  • Writer's pictureJohn San Filippo

2023 Tekkie Award for Core Integration: UMe Credit Union

By John San Filippo

Burbank, Calif.-based UMe Credit Union had been on Jack Henry’s Symitar core processing platform for decades when the $350 million, 17,000-member institution realized it was time to go shopping for a new digital banking platform. The credit had switched from an on-premise Symitar implementation to the hosted EASE version about two years earlier and it became clear it was now time to modernize the member experience.

“Our previous digital banking provider wasn't putting any investment into our platform,” the credit union’s President and CEO Robert Einstein told Finopotamus, adding that this provider had also become unresponsive to the credit union’s needs. “We did a couple of integrations – like we did Zelle and we did Co-op’s CardNav. Those integrations took 13 months. We realized at a certain point that, besides the fact that they're not putting any investment into our platform, we just didn't feel valued as a client. We had an expiring contract and decided it was time to look.”

The Search Is On

According to Einstein, the credit union narrowed the field down to for digital banking platforms, ultimately choosing Bankjoy based on a combination of technology and culture.

“We were looking for a more innovative and progressive digital banking solution that would elevate our member experience and match our brand and our brand identity,” said Einstein. “When we did our demos, (Bankjoy CEO) Mike Duncan flew in and did the demo for us. We were really impressed by that – and the demo was fantastic.”

Robert Einstein

Einstein said that Duncan stayed personally involved throughout the sales and implementation process, something he couldn’t say of the CEOs at the other three vendors. “At the time, they had maybe 60 clients, and here's the CEO who thought it was important enough to fly in to meet with us and do the demo,” added Einstein. “It was clear they were dedicated to being the best in the market. Culturally, we just felt really aligned from the beginning.”

Connecting to the Core

Although the reasons to leave the previous platform were compelling, there were still features from that system that UMe wanted to preserve.

“The RDC (remote deposit capture) feature on our old platform communicated with Symitar in real time to provide our members with up-to-the-minute information on various RDC limits, such as daily limits,” explained Einstein. “That was very important to us, but it’s something that Bankjoy had never done before. Nor had any of their other clients asked for that feature before. They figured it out, though.”

Another feature UMe Credit Union wanted to preserve from its old system is what Einstein calls a “shadow system.” This feature allows call center staff to see the member’s computer screen for support purposes. “This is a feature Bankjoy didn’t have,” said Einstein. “I got Weiwei (Duncan, Bankjoy COO) on the phone and walked her through it. She assured us they could do it, and it’s in place today.”

Michael Duncan

“Symitar offers a high degree of customizability, particularly through its custom PowerOn scripts,” Bankjoy’s Michael Duncan told Finopotamus. “These on-demand scripts allow for tailored reporting and task automation and are widely used by many Symitar users. We honed our expertise in the custom PowerOn scripts that UMe had developed and utilized over the years. This enabled us to leverage existing business rules and task automations, accelerating the implementation process and ensuring that pre-existing task automations remained intact.”

Einstein reported that connectivity to the Symitar core was established for testing “relatively early” in the implementation process.

Third-Party Connections

Einstein explained that UMe Credit Union decided to retain all its existing third-party relationships and Bankjoy had no issue integrating with any of them. He did, however, learn an important lesson from that experience.

“The biggest lesson learned throughout the entire process had to do with third-party integrations,” said Einstein. “I should have engaged those third-party vendors sooner because I needed to get on their implementation calendars, too.” He said that although Bankjoy was ready, vendor delays in these other integrations pushed the digital banking launch back two to three months.

“If anyone is considering doing a digital banking conversion, put your third-party partners on alert and get on their calendars as soon as possible,” admonished Einstein.

The Proof Is in the Member Experience

Einstein said that Ume Credit Union’s integration of the Bankjoy digital banking platform with its Symitar core processing platform has been a success at every level, including member feedback.

“Our new normal is a superior product with a forward-thinking company,” noted Einstein. “Just the other day I was looking at our app reviews and I’d like to share just three. One said, ‘I absolutely love how easy it is to complete transactions.’ Another one said, ‘The new features make it so much easier to do things online, like transferring money to other accounts or other things you cannot easily do when you're not near a branch.’ And the third one said, “I love the new design and layout of the new app, especially the customizable dashboard in different tabs. It just flows a lot better than the last one.’ I read those to my team and it made us proud of the all hard work we did. We really made a difference in improving our members' experience.”


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