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 3.
Wishing for Crypto Embracement
While a longstanding industry buzz word viewed with apprehension by many credit union executives, 2022 could be the year that cryptocurrencies gain a meaningful foot hold – at least that’s the desire of Strategic Resource Management’s Senior Vice President and “crypto expert” Larry Pruss.
“My wish is for a competitive cryptocurrency trading app for customers, along with secure custodial services,” Pruss said.
With a global footprint, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company specializes in contract optimization and advisory services for banks and credit unions.
When asked what the chances of his wish coming true in 2022, Pruss responded: “High if the right partners are selected, but getting in the queue early is important because more than a third of financial institutions are planning to launch a similar solution in the next three years.”
Wishing for New Core Features
Fellow colleague at Strategic Resource Management, Connor Heaton, who serves as vice president of Intelligent Automation and Artificial Intelligence, is wishing for a “holistic” core platform.
“One that incorporates strong capabilities for loan origination, full-spectrum CRM (case management, marketing, and digital banking) and provides comprehensive application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate with third parties and emerging solutions,” Heaton said.
While he noted that this type of core “seems to be the goal of pretty much all the big core providers,” from his perspective these players “appear to be tied up by the amount of legacy code, disparate and acquired systems, and the vast footprint of customers and custom implementations.”
Conversely, he said, “Newer providers seem like they may be more philosophically aligned, but they have a lot of catching up to do in terms of niche.” How long this game of catch up takes is hard for Heaton to say, but as a wish these features are “highly” important to him.
“If such a comprehensive solution exists, many financial institutions aren’t aware of it, can’t afford it, can’t implement it, or have some other blocker,” he said.
Wishing to Avoid the ‘Next Best’ Product
If there ever was a time of year where companies advertise “must have” products, it’s usually around December when annual budgets are decided. But CuneXus Solutions’ Senior Vice President Barry Kirby wishes credit unions and vendors will “step away” from “trying to predict the next-best product” that members might want and instead focus on “providing members with an array of viable choices” to inform better decisions.
“We believe that banking should be more like a retail experience — consumers should be offered a menu of options that are accessible to them, and they can choose the product that is best suited for their lifestyle and household,” Kirby said.
The Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company develops software-based solutions, including data-driven, on-demand lending and borrowing, to aid credit unions and banks in maximizing the member and customer relationships.
While Kirby secretly hopes for a standard virtual meeting platform that would eliminate the “can you see my screen” or “hear me now” choruses, his primary wish is focused on the benefits of credit unions creating a personalized experience for members. “We are seeing a lot of interest in our digital storefront, which shows that we’re on the right track,” he said.
Wishing for Enhanced Cybersecurity Regulations
According to the Ponemon Institute’s “Data Risk in the Third-Party Ecosystem” study, over the past three years, the number of U.S. organizations reporting data breaches caused by third parties increased 25%. It is for this reason, among others, Ncontracts' Chief Technology Officer Bill Simpson is wishing that “vendor cyber monitoring technology” is a major focus in 2022.
“It is no secret that third-party vendor breaches are an increasing problem. No matter which study you read, there is a clear trend,” Simpson said. “The number of breaches this year topped last year’s numbers before October, exposing data of millions of businesses and consumers.”
The Brentwood, Tenn.-based company provides integrated risk management and compliance software to approximately 4,000 financial institutions and mortgage companies in the United States.
As cybersecurity regulations continue to tighten and cyber-attacks not only increase but intensify, Simpson said financial institutions and fintechs alike “must prioritize vendor cyber monitoring technology” in 2022 and beyond.
“But it can’t be a ‘one and done’ approach. Monitoring needs to be continuous, as reliance on third-party vendors increases, particularly as technology moves to cloud-based applications and services,” he said.
Simpson’s wish, he concedes, requires investment and comes with challenges. He added that these variables are necessary, noting that cybercrime in the U.S. jumped from $3.5 billion in 2019 to $4.2 billion last year.
“Data breaches can be costly, impacting both an organization’s operations and reputation. For financial institutions, the risks extend even further, with massive fines that could potentially force an institution to shut down,” Simpson said.
And even with the proverbial writing on the wall in way of increasing threats, he said many organizations are “still lagging to implement” safeguarding technologies.
“Recent surveys show less than half of U.S. companies are expanding their monitoring programs,” he said. “However, it is no longer just an added layer of protection; it’s a critical part of business that must be prioritized.”
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