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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

2024 World Credit Union Conference Returns to U.S. After Nearly a Decade; Modelshop Among Presenters

By W.B. King

Denver was the last American city to host the World Credit Union Conference (WCUC)—that was in 2015. This July, Beantown will welcome credit union industry professionals from six continents and more than 60 countries.

“Everyone is super excited to be back in the states co-hosting a conference with a prominent organization like America’s Credit Unions [formerly Credit Union National Association] that will generate excitement and enthusiasm,” Christi Swoboda, director of international meetings and events for World Council of Credit Unions, said during a recent episode of The Global Credit Union Podcast.

This is the eleventh time she has organized the event. Last year, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, hosted and drew the largest crowd to date—more than 3,000 attendees. This year’s conference takes place from July 21 to 24 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

“Both organizations are collaborating daily to bring together leaders, professionals and stakeholders, which we are hoping will enhance networking opportunities and knowledge sharing withing the credit union community,” said Swoboda.  

Based on feedback from past attendees and surveys, the team prioritizes topics like leadership, teamwork, advocacy, digital transformation and improving member services, Swoboda noted. “This ensures content remains relevant and addresses the currents needs and interests of credit unions and the professionals who work within them,” she said.

First Time WCUC Attendee and Presenter

The event will feature keynote speeches, more than 25 sessions and workshops, and an international exhibition of solution providers. Among fireside panel presenters is Modelshop’s CEO Tom Tobin who will be joined by Golden 1 Credit Union’s Chief Lending Officer Chris Hamilton. The session, moderated by Finopotamus Co-Founder John San Filippo, is titled: “Using AI to Create Centralized Member Decision Strategies That Deepen Member Relations.”

The Newark, N.J-based Modelshop offers a no-code, artificial intelligence (AI) risk decision platform used by clients to design, test, deploy and monitor new risk models without having to “rip and replace” existing tech stacks, Tobin explained. Golden 1 Credit Union is among the company’s clients.

“I’m looking forward to chatting about how alternate data and AI is helping credit unions build more intimate member relationships,” said Tobin. “If you think about it, this is what technology is all about for credit unions.”

While he said certain organizations initially were skeptical of AI and automation because they feared losing the human touch, Tobin added leading edge technologies are actually allowing credit unions to create an even more personalized banking experience for members of all ages.

“It's an exciting time to leverage these new technologies and I think the folks on stage with me will give an interesting intersection of perspectives from member relationship, credit risk and technology angles,” he said.

This will be Tobin’s first time attending the WCUC. “The fact that this is a global event is compelling for me. What makes credit unions successful is how focused they are on meeting the unique needs of their members, whether that membership group is based on geography or a specialized community,” he said. “I'm excited to learn more about how international credit unions think about their members' needs and how those needs may be different from U.S. credit unions.”

Creating The Highest Level of Collaboration

Operating in the analytic solutions space for nearly three decades, prior to founding Modelshop in 2012, Tobin worked at Oracle as a senior vice president of products, the CTO of Fidex, and at Fiserv in two capacities: CTO of development, risk and compliance, and general manager of its financial crime risk management solutions.

He explained that by combining traditional credit data and risk models with non-traditional data points, such as banking transaction histories, his AI-powered decision engine provides “more powerful and personalized insights” into finding the best products for members. “Using our cash flow underwriting enables credit unions to make more automated, personalized and inclusive lending decisions with a higher level of approvals and lower default risk,” he added.

Somewhat new to the credit union space, he believes the intersection of fintechs and credit unions is currently creating the “highest level of collaboration between the business and technology across industries.”

This trend has been accelerated, he offered, by fintechs “thinking outside the box” about how technology can help the business versus the traditional technology vendor view that didn’t lean into collaboration.

“I've seen changes in attitudes on the business side as well as business leaders recognize that they can't keep up with innovation by building everything themselves—partnering with technology companies is now required,” he continued. “I think I see this transformation most clearly with credit unions, which is why we're excited to be part of this [credit union] community.”

It's Not Too Late to Register

Swoboda said registration is open until the day before the event begins [July 20] and attendees can purchase a four-day pass or a pass for individual days. 

As Tobin prepares for the conference, he looks forward to spending more time with Golden 1 Credit Union’s Hamilton, while embracing the credit union’s “people helping people” movement—building on existing relationships and forging new ones.

“My most important objective is to meet credit union leaders and to listen to how my technology can help them achieve their goals. Conversations at events like this are gold, whether it's during a presentation, at our vendor booth [420] or over lunch with whomever you happen to sit with,” he said.

“I've been building AI-based decision technology for a long time, but it's really only recently that there is so much interest from credit unions in how they can leverage AI to build deeper member relationships,” Tobin added. “I'm excited about the opportunity to use my experience to help as many credit unions as I can.”


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