Guest Editorial by Pete Major, VP of Fintech Services, Member Driven Technologies
An uncertain market, a technology ecosystem that continues to grow exponentially more complex and the widespread member expectation to be able to do everything digitally created both challenges and opportunities for credit unions last year. As they look to innovate, remain competitive and deliver outstanding member experiences despite these difficulties, there are several notable trends that credit unions should be mindful of as we enter a new year.
The Fight for Awareness on Digital Channels
The shift towards digital channels has been a longstanding trend, one that has prompted institutions to think more strategically about how they initiate and execute engagements that used to happen organically in branches. In response, many credit unions have prioritized improving strategic member interactions within digital channels and how to make them more meaningful.
This focus will only intensify next year as credit unions leverage technology and data to meet the right members at the right time with the right message digitally. Such efforts can identify prospective members as well as current ones that are flight risks, helping to more effectively tailor outreach and strengthen member relationships. This also allows credit unions to more accurately offer personalized services and products, enhancing member satisfaction and loyalty. This is an area where AI will provide significant value.
AI as a Major Efficiency Tool
Speaking of AI, the hype and buzz around this technology will only increase next year. More solidified use cases will emerge, such as assisting credit unions in simpler member chats and supporting the loan approval process. AI will be used to boost operational efficiencies, proactive decision making and create more personalized offerings. Even if no action is immediately taken, credit unions should at least start thinking about AI and how it could potentially align with or support their overarching member service and brand strategy. A good place to start is talking to trusted partners and peers to stay updated on the latest developments.
The Ongoing Security and Fraud Risk
As digital, near real-time transactions increase so too will security breaches, fraud and ransomware attacks. Credit unions must remain on top of implementing robust cybersecurity measures, which includes investing in advanced fraud detection systems and educating members on secure financial practices. Proper guardrails must be in place, or credit unions risk losses far beyond just monetary ones; safeguarding the trust and confidence of members is key.
The Dash for Deposits
As capital remains a pervasive challenge, credit unions will give high priority to initiatives that can help them drive new sources of deposits and fee income. And despite what some might think, now is not the time to ignore loan processing procedures and capabilities. Streamlining these processes now will put credit unions ahead once rates come back down.
In 2024, credit unions will need to strategically evaluate their technology roadmap and business models to ensure that they’re evolving with their members and business needs. Here is where relying on trusted service providers to help manage, maintain and optimize the technology portfolio can bring notable value. The willingness to create a roadmap – and make adjustments when necessary – will enable them to effectively compete.
While many unknowns persist, what is certain is that members will continue to look to their credit unions for financial support and stability. Credit unions are pivotal to supporting local economies, treating members and businesses not as just another account number but as people to champion and empower. Those institutions that keep a close pulse on trends, carefully evaluate their tech stack, select the right partners, and make decisions based on their unique strategy will be well positioned for success moving forward.