By John San Filippo
As it has been known to do at past conferences, the CUNA Technology Council presented a “Best of Show” award among exhibitors at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in early March. The award winner at this year’s GAC was DoubleCheck Solutions. The Burbank, Calif.-based tech firm offers a cloud-based solution to help credit unions manage overdrafts and non-sufficient funds (NSFs) in a more proactive, transparent, and member-friendly manner. CUNA Councils announced the award via press release on March 23. Finopotamus spoke with DoubleCheck CEO Joel Schwartz to learn more about the solution and how it helps both credit unions and their members.
In the Beginning
“I'm a former banker, almost 20 years in banking,” said Schwartz. “At the bank every single day, it seemed like from 8 a.m. until noon, we were dealing with all these overdrafts and non-sufficient funds. There were a lot of customers screaming and yelling, ‘Hey, why didn't you help me?’ And the CEO saying, stop waiving fees. And regulators saying, this is completely out of control. I just knew there had to be a better way to solve this problem.”
Schwartz made it his mission to create a solution that would help both financial institutions and consumers deal with NSFs and overdrafts. He said that the first step was looking at the situation from the consumer’s perspective.
“The customers weren't really yelling about the fees,” noted Schwartz. “They were yelling because we didn’t tell them what was happening. ‘You didn't give me any ability to control what was happening in my account.’ That's how DoubleCheck was born.”
The company was formed in 2013, but got “rebooted” in 2019 with the addition of some investor capital. “We’ve been going strong ever since,” said Schwartz.
How It Works
Schwartz explained the cloud-based platform sits behind the credit union’s firewall and integrates to both the digital banking platform and the core processing platform. “Whether it's an NSF or an overdraft, the member receives a notification from the credit union by a text or an email. When they log into their online banking, they're going to see their entire day's scenario. They’ll see which items are being paid, which ones are being returned, which ones are being covered with their overdraft protection.”
Most important, the member can take action. For example, the member can alter what gets paid and what doesn’t. “If the mother-in-law and the gardener are being paid, but the credit card and mortgage payments are being sent back, the member can swap them,” claimed Schwartz. He added that, based on the credit union’s configuration, the member also has multiple options for adding funds to cover the deficit, thereby avoiding any returns.
“They can use Zelle, a credit card, a micro loan, anything that credit union wants to offer to help that member get ahead of it or deal with the problem at hand,” said Schwartz. He added that even if the member chooses to do nothing, at least they’ve made an informed decision.
The system, he said, is also highly configurable, giving the credit union the ability to charge fees, reduce fees, waive fees or assess no fees at all, according to its particular needs. Schwartz also noted that branch and call center staff can use the same interface to assist members.
Integration Is Key
From a core integration standpoint, Schwartz said that DoubleCheck’s SOC2-certified, Microsoft Azure-based system is “fully integrated” with Symitar’s Episys core platform. “We've built all the PowerOns,” he said, referring to Episys’ built-in scripting language. “It's live, so we can pull all the information from the core.” He added that the company is currently onboarding a credit union using a Fiserv core and is in talks with credit unions on several other cores.
DoubleCheck has integrations up and running with several popular digital banking platforms, including Jack Henry’s Banno, NCR, Alogent and Lumin Digital. The company, Schwartz noted, has also signed deals with credit unions running Q2 and Alkami.
He added that DoubleCheck has also partnered with QCash, the micro loan CUSO of Washington State Employees Credit Union, as one way to enable the microloan component in the DoubleCheck system.
Making a Difference
“We get feedback from actual members that use the technology today,” said Schwartz. “We take the data we gather and incorporate it into what we put out there.” This ensures a product that is as member-friendly as possible.
“Credit unions need to find a way to compete,” asserted Schwartz. “The average credit union member today is about 47, but believe it or not, 51% of people who actually overdraft an NSF are millennials. So, you have to find a way to keep your members and start bringing in new ones. Otherwise, the likelihood of you surviving is not high.” He said that the DoubleCheck system can serve as an important differentiator.
A Unique Solution
Schwartz claimed that DoubleCheck has no competitors in the marketplace, noting that the company has “bulletproof” patents on its intellectual property. He said the company even has a patent on its alerting system.
“Besides the patents, we own the only place to extrapolate the necessary information,” said Schwartz. “There's a lot of ‘secret sauce’ we had to figure out and we've made a lot of mistakes along the way. We know how to build it.” He indicated that just based on the time it took DoubleCheck to develop the solution, it’s unlikely that competitors will appear any time soon.
Schwartz said the company wants to reach as many credit unions as possible. “We partnered with the corporates to help us onboard smaller credit unions that may not have the personnel or financial resources to bring on the platform,” he said. “Everything we've built is designed for scaling.
“The message to the member is, we got your back,” concluded Schwartz. “We're going to help you when you need the help. And no matter what you need, we have that for you.”