By W.B. King
For this year’s annual Finopotamus “Holiday Tech Wish List,” we sat down with forward-looking credit union and fintech executives who shared respective tech hopes as well as forecasted market realities for 2022. Due to a plethora of interesting responses, the Wish List will be presented in three installments. Here goes Part 1.
Topping the IT wish for the $600 million Battle Creek, Mich.-based OMNI Community Credit Union is building its lending process into a fully integrated, automated and self-service solution, explained Chief Digital Officer Jason Cain.
“This modern solution will look to integrate into services, such as auto decisioning, collateral, documentation, relationship, marketing, insurance, and digital banking,” Cain said. “It will be a turnkey solution that gives our members the power and freedom to own each stage of the lending process, while providing support from OMNI’s team of financial experts.”
The credit union supports approximately 45,000 members at 14 branches. And of the 140 employees, eight are tech-facing. When asked what the likelihood of this wish being implemented, Cain conceded that there might be a few road blocks, but is confident that the wish will come to fruition.
“While we are surely going to run into obstacles along the way, OMNI created a User Experience Team comprised of organizational leaders to facilitate its digital transformation efforts,” he said.
Not unlike Cain’s wish, White Clay’s EVP and Chief Revenue Officer Bob Kottler said he hopes more credit unions see the value of using technology to create a “clean data environment.”
The Louisville, Ky.-based company provides a user-friendly experience to help bankers increase profitability, drive team performance and manage relationships.
“This serves as a foundation to improve profitability, drive revenue, and deliver shareholder value. Equipped with this data and information, bankers will have a better view of their members’ transactions and activities, helping them cross-sell and market relevant products and services and have more personalized interactions, leading to long-term and trusting relationships,” Kottler said.
For credit unions to remain competitive and relevant in the market in 2022 and beyond, Kottler is hopeful that his wish will be embraced.
“Credit union executives are increasingly looking for a clean data environment that provides a single source of truth, enabling a human-centered and personalized approach to banking, which is what members are searching for today, while also driving revenue,” he continued. “I think we will see many more credit unions following this type of approach in the New Year.”
Wishing for a AI/ML/BI 2022
Building on the need for more credit unions to embrace technology advancements, Sensibill’s Chief Technology Officer Danny Piangerelli wishes that the “AI/ML community” continues its “strong efforts” in making the “complexity and depth of our craft more meaningful and actionable” for members of the credit union industry.
The Toronto-based company provides a solution for financial institutions and banks to collect, synthesize, and “action customer spend data” to personalize at scale.
Piangerelli explained that when related efforts become meaningful and actionable, “members are one step closer to receiving personalized products and services from their credit union to achieve their own version of financial wellness.” This approach, he added, benefits both the member and the credit union.
Noting that analytics and insights are still in the “early stages” of development, Piangerelli added that the ability to translate those insights into more helpful information for members will be critical in the coming years.
“Understanding how people spend, including merchant and card preferences, enables credit unions they trust to offer more personalized and relevant products and solutions,” he said.
The leading holiday wish for Finalytics.ai’s Co-Founder and CEO Craig McLaughlin is that credit union executives “come to the realization” that “they too can compete” in the digital world.
The San Mateo, Calif.-based company’s mission is to use technology to help financial institutions offer the same exceptional service they are known for in-branch and online.
“We see many credit unions struggle with translating their value proposition, people doing business with people, to the digital realm. Credit unions don’t have to be beholden to core providers or digital banking vendors for their member digital experiences,” McLaughlin said.
“CUs can partner with fintech firms to build engaging digital experiences that not only demonstrate the credit unions commitment but can result in bottom line impact. Digital experiences can be tailored to each member without having to beg for data from core providers or spending millions on building out a data science team.”
As McLaughlin looks to 2022, he is hopeful that credit unions will “accelerate” digital strategies. “We are beginning to see interest on our platform because some CU executives are tired of waiting for their partners to move quickly,” he continued. “On the other hand, we do worry that many continue to ‘innovate at the edges,’ which isn’t going to allow them to even keep pace with the leaders.”
Similar to Piangerelli and McLaughlin’s wishes, DeepTarget’s CEO Preetha Pulusani hopes there will be a movement toward “empowering enriched consumer personalization” with AI and business intelligence (BI).
The Huntsville, Ala.-based company, which counts 185 credit unions as clients, helps financial institutions engage, cross-sell and measure across digital channels.
“Every digital interaction with a banking member/consumer needs to be wrapped in a personal touch experience — one that is far from creepy and as close to being a welcomed prospect as possible,” Pulusani said. “This can happen with a deeper enrichment of what FIs can know or infer about their individual banking consumers or website visitors by increasing their use of AI and BI.”
The “real trick,” she added, is making this approach practical and not requiring credit unions to “hire artificial intelligence wizards to figure out it.”
Whether or not these practices will be adopted in greater numbers in 2022 remains unclear, but Pulusani said “tremendous progress” has been made in “driving personalization by using data that financial institutions have about their users” and combining it with “certain levels” of AI/ML.
“What is described above is taking it to the next level, which is not terribly simple. Challenges include the massive amounts of data being generated every millisecond and the ability to curate from that whatever information is essential and influential in order to power enriched personalization,” she said. “Certainly more progress in this arena will be made in 2022, but spanning every digital touchpoint is a reach for next year.”
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