John San Filippo
GAC2023: CuneXus and Pulsate Talk Partnerships and More
By John San Filippo
At the 2023 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, Finopotamus had the opportunity to speak with CuneXus CEO Tony Salamone, CuneXus Senior Vice President of Client Relations Baron Conway, and Pulsate CEO Sarah Martin about their recently announced partnership, as well as other technology topics.
Why a Partnership?
Santa Rosa, Calif.-based CuneXus provides what it calls a digital storefront – an add-on to a credit union’s digital banking platform that allows members to view and accept preapproved credit offers. Dublin, Ireland-based Pulsate provides mobile marketing software that uses geofencing to provide just-in-time mobile notifications to a member based on their location.
“We believe a member should never have to apply for a loan; they should always be preapproved,” said Salamone. “We use our software to deploy [the preapproval] out through all of the channels the member connects to the credit union. Where Pulsate comes into play is as another channel we can deploy through.”
Salamone offered an example. “A member may be out shopping for a vehicle,” he explained. “They're on a dealership lot looking for a car. The geofencing from Pulsate will tell the member, “Shopping for a car? Don't forget you're preapproved at the credit union for this auto loan.” He added that the notification from Pulsate includes a link that allows the member to activate the preapproved loan. “It just simplifies the member experience and keeps it always present for them,” he added.
How to Geofence
Finopotamus asked Martin how, in Salamone’s example, the auto dealership became geofenced in the credit union’s app.
“It's in the hands of our customer where they want geofence,” she stated. “In this example, we would support our customers to geofence the dealerships in their area. It's super easy to do within the system. If it’s just one or two locations, it’s as easy as drawing a circle around the location on a map. For multiple locations, you can also upload a list into the system.”
Martin added that the Pulsate system can adjust the messaging based on time parameters. “If somebody's more than 20 minutes at a dealership, it's a clear indication of interest that they're shopping for a car,” she said. “Being able to use that piece of data and combining that instantaneously with the data that CuneXus has aggregated, a more urgent message can be sent immediately through push notifications.”
Digital Banking Integration
“We connect through all of the online and mobile banking providers,” said Salamone, “So when a member logs into their online banking app, we are front and center on that application. In addition to your account summary, bill payment, whatever, we are another tab in that experience, or we can even be right on that first page.”
Martin added. “We are separately integrated into the credit union’s digital banking platform. We have customers that use Pulsate. CuneXus has its own customers. Then we have a growing number of customers that utilize both. We are each integrated independently to digital banking, but we’ve created a data bridge that allows the two systems to work together.” She noted that this connectivity was achieved through the use of APIs (application programming interfaces).
Moving Toward Greater Personalization
According to Conway, all this leads to a greater level of personalization for the member. “When you think about traditional marketing, especially in financial services, it’s been about trying to reach as many members as I can with the same type of messaging again and again and again,” said Conway. “However, today if you leverage your data, you have all of this unique understanding of who your members are and what their needs are – and what their preapproved for. Now what you can start doing is building very, very specific messages and communicating value propositions in a way that you weren’t able to before.”
“It’s about being top of mind in that decision making,” added Martin. “I sat beside a lady this morning at breakfast who said her credit union, a smaller institution, is only getting two or three car loans a week. She said her own members are not considering them for new car financing because the members are being given offers from other larger credit unions or from alternative financing sources from the dealer.” The woman’s eyes lit up when Martin explained what CuneXus and Pulsate can accomplish.
On the topic of helping smaller credit unions, Salamone said that the biggest challenge he currently faces is that CuneXus is an on-premise solution, making it difficult to manage for many smaller credit unions. “We are rolling out a hosted solution which should be in beta by the third quarter,” Salamone told Finopotamus. “That just opens the doors for anyone.”
Using Data Better
Noting that many credit unions underutilize the data that have at their fingertips, Salamone urged them to do better. “It's continually educating [them],” he said. “We see that all the time. There were so many different data points that we can extract and use in the system. Some are very simplistic in what they're doing. That is one of the biggest challenges. Sometimes we ask credit unions about various data points and they just don’t know. That’s why the continual education and consulting that we're doing around best practices is so important. This data doesn't necessarily have to come from core, either. It can come from several different places. We just consolidate it and put it to work for the credit union.”