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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Holiday IT Wish List for 2024 - Part Four

By W.B. King


For this year’s annual Finopotamus “Holiday Tech Wish List,” we sat down with forward-looking fintech and credit union executives who shared their tech hopes and forecasted market realities for 2024. Due to a significant number of intriguing responses, this year’s Wish List will be presented in five installments.


Part Four includes insights from KlariVis, Allied Payment Network, DeepTarget, Kinective, Glia, Member Driven Technologies (MDT), NCR Voyix and NCR Atleos.


Wishing to Embrace Data-Driven Decision-Making Tools


To stay ahead of competitive threats and to ensure credit unions can quickly respond to changing market conditions and member needs, KlariVis CEO and Founder Kim Snyder wishes for the adoption of more "data-driven decisions-making" technologies.


“Information is power and the financial industry is awash in it,” Snyder told Finopotamus. “But possessing enormous troves of data is not enough; the key lies in effectively visualizing, understanding and putting this information into action.”


When deciphering the massive amount of aggregated data from disparate silos, Snyder said “paralysis can set in.” As such, credit union teams, she added, “can inadvertently stall progress if an enterprise-wide data strategy isn't enforced through and underscored by a data-driven culture.” The remedy, and part of her wish, is for credit unions to develop a “modern tech stack” that “empowers” employee and members.


Kim Snyder

“With or without a data strategy, most credit unions are already using data to make decisions. However, they spend countless hours sifting through various systems and numerous reports to pull pieces of data together in a very manual non-repeatable way, often with Excel spreadsheets,” she noted. “They have spent so much time and energy learning and developing these processes that there is limited time to be anything more than reactive.”


The Roanoke, Va.-based fintech enables financial institutions (FIs) to accelerate growth by leveraging data locked in siloed banking systems.


By investing in an analytics platform built for banking, Snyder said credit unions can see the “whole picture at any given moment, allowing them to make critical decisions that drive their institution forward.”


She added that 2024 will be an exciting time for credit unions.


“Remote has become a defining characteristic of our society, members crave the personal touch that a local financial institution is uniquely qualified to provide,” Snyder said. “Credit unions have an opportunity in the coming years to recapture market share and capitalize on their reputation for member-centric banking. My hope is that they seize this opportunity.”


Wishing to Overcome P2P Security Challenges


Believing that a secure, well-designed person-to-person (P2P) payment system can significantly elevate member satisfaction and drive profitability for credit unions, Allied Payment Network Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Harper’s 2024 wish for credit unions is overcoming security challenges related to P2P networks.


“The key is not to shy away from the challenges but to embrace them as opportunities for innovation and differentiation,” he told Finopotamus. “By enhancing their own P2P solutions, credit unions can offer a service that is not only more secure than third-party apps, but also more tailored to their members’ unique needs. This customization can lead to increased usage, member loyalty, and, subsequently, a healthier bottom line.”


The Fort Wayne, Ind.-based fintech offers real-time, open-network payments solutions to FIs. The company has 265 credit union clients.


Jeff Harper

One perceived P2P adoption challenge, he noted, is a credit union balancing the “urgency for digital innovation” with the “inherent complexities of cybersecurity.” As P2P networks become more sophisticated, so do the threats against them, he added.


“Therefore, credit unions must invest in robust security measures and continuous system upgrades to safeguard against evolving cyber risks,” he continued. “Another challenge lies in ensuring seamless integration with existing systems and maintaining user-friendly interfaces that resonate with all members.”


With credit unions comprising 50% of Allied Payment Network’s client base, Harper said that in the coming year the company will remain committed to advancing the credit union movement in the P2P space.


“We hope to see the inroads that have been made in the expansion of the movement continue into 2024 and beyond,” he offered.


Wishing for Widespread Adoption and Integration of AI and ML in Financial Services


DeepTarget CEO Preetha Pulusani believes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have the potential to “revolutionize the manner in which credit unions understand and interact” with members. As such, her wish for 2024 is the widespread adoption and integration of AI and ML in financial services.


“They can help us predict member behavior, personalize offerings, and ultimately drive a more effective and efficient engagement process,” she told Finopotamus. “These technologies are not only reshaping financial services but also driving a substantial increase in relevance, effectiveness, and returns on any marketing or customer communication.”


The Huntsville, Ala.-based fintech offers FIs a solution designed to increase loan demand, promote product adoption and support intelligent marketing through advanced data mining and analytics.


With more and more FIs implementing AI and ML solutions, Pulusani expects to see continued adoption rates in the coming year, but noted there are hurdles to overcome.


“The primary challenge is data privacy and security. As we collect and analyze more data, it’s critical that member information is protected and complies with all relevant regulation,” she said. “Another challenge is the need for skilled professionals who can manage and interpret the complex data structures used in AI and ML.”


Preetha Pulusani

As she looks to 2024, her hope is that the credit union industry continues to leverage technology that provides “personalized, efficient, and secure services” to members, including adopting digital transformation strategies.


“I also hope that the industry will continue to prioritize cybersecurity, ensuring that members’ financial information is safe and secure,” she said. “Finally, I hope that credit unions will continue to uphold their commitment to community service and financial education, using innovations in technology to reach more people and make a greater impact.”


Wishing for Increased Adoption and Streamlining of Document Automation


As Kinective’s Director of Education and Experience Tim Kanaley pondered his 2024 wish list for credit unions, he landed on “increased adoption and streamlining of document automation through digital strategies.” These include the enhanced use of process automation tools, as well as electronic signature technologies across the FI. 


“Historically, modern digital solutions have been undertaken and utilized in a non-unified and business-unit-driven siloed approach. This is an inefficient and expensive method for addressing much-needed modernization,” he told Finopotamus. “Tools that can solve the document automation challenge at the enterprise level are available and should be more aggressively adopted by the financial institution.”


While he said certain obstacles exist for credit unions determining whether or not to adopt a singular enterprise solution, each year adoption rates increase.


Tim Kanaley

“Despite the support from legislation, industry leaders, and others and the demands of consumers and employees alike, there is still often resistance from local regulators and compliance professionals stuck in antiquated beliefs and misunderstandings,” he said. “Increased education and communication through professional organizations can help move the needle to more widespread adoption.”

 

The Gilbert, Ariz.-based company offers credit unions “enhanced member experiences and innovative new products” through access to fintech and workflow automation products.


As he looks to the coming year, he said he hopes credit unions continue community outreach programs at places like coffee shops that can bring services and education to less served populations.


“With the ubiquity of cloud-based technologies, ease of use of remote signing solutions, and growing adoption of web-based and self-service interfaces the opportunities for the ‘branchless’ branch are endless,” he noted.


Wishing for Credit Unions to Combine Generative AI with Live Support


While generative AI offers “promising transformative capabilities,” Glia Senior Vice President of Marketing John Fernandez said it’s only a “piece of the puzzle.” To that end, his top IT wish for 2024 is for credit unions to view their “member service strategy and corresponding technology stack” more comprehensively.


“AI should be a complement, not a replacement, for live support, which can result in a powerful synergy if approached responsibly in a way that is compliant, on-brand and provides meaningful results to members,” he told Finopotamus. “Large language model (LLM) technology can bring notable value when leveraged as ‘co-pilots’ for member-facing representatives during support interactions.”


To successfully integrate AI into a credit union’s member service operations requires “a seamless transition between AI-driven responses and human expertise,” he said.


John Fernandez

“It’s critical that credit unions strike the right balance to ensure the member journey remains smooth and efficient,” he continued. “This can provide the additional benefits of an improved member experience while also enhancing key business outcomes such as better identification of cross-selling and revenue-driving opportunities.”


The New York-based firm’s Digital Customer Service (DCS) solution was designed to unify traditional call center and automation with its ChannelLess Architecture.


As Fernandez looks to 2024, he hopes credit unions will “overcome the digital disconnect currently experienced by many between the call center, digital-first options, and AI-powered chatbots.” A unified member interaction strategy and platform, he added, allows credit unions to “bridge the gap while providing a seamless member experience and improving management, staffing and reporting challenges.”


Wishing for Technology Solutions that Support Overall Strategies 


Peter Major, vice president of fintech solutions at Member Driven Technologies (MDT), believes credit unions that differentiate themselves through digital experiences will "likely have different tech priorities" than those that still rely "heavily on physical branches and touchpoints" for brand awareness and member acquisition. As such, his 2024 wish is for credit unions to “place the priority on the technology and solutions” that best support their overall strategy.


“It is critical for technology to directly support the overarching strategy of how a credit union sets itself apart and competes,” he told Finopotamus.


Given economic uncertainty and tighter tech budgets, he feels that credit unions place more focus on the alignment of their technology with their overall strategy in the coming year.


“A common challenge when it comes to technology is how complicated the architecture has become. When something goes wrong from a tech perspective today, it has often become nearly impossible for credit unions to fix it themselves,” he continued. “This is especially a challenge for those credit unions that lack large or extremely technically skilled IT staff. It will be more important than ever for credit unions to rely on strategic partners to help implement, optimize and maintain their increasingly complex technology ecosystem.”


Peter Major

The Farmington Hills, Mich.-based credit union service organization (CUSO), which serves more than 115 credit unions, hosts the Symitar core processing system from Jack Henry.


As Major looks to the coming year, he hopes credit unions continue to leverage “digital-first world” technologies, such as AI that can improve member engagement. 


“I also hope the industry continues to stay on top of their cybersecurity posture. Attacks are on the rise, and it’s critical for credit unions to invest the time, energy, and money to ensure the proper guardrails are put in place,” he said.


“My other hope is that credit unions will take a careful inventory of their technology, closely evaluate and make adjustments to their tech strategy and then create a roadmap of how they can best compete moving forward,” he continued. “If credit unions don’t know where to start, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from service providers or their peers. We’re all in this together.”


Wishing More Credit Unions Invest in Real-Time Data and AI Analysis


Calling it both a wish and an expectation, Douglas Brown, president of digital banking at NCR Voyix, told Finopotamus he hopes more credit unions invest in real-time data and AI analysis.


“In the face of ongoing, pervasive economic stress and uncertainty, credit unions are the ideal partner to support members throughout their communities,” he said. “They must be proactive, anticipate member behaviors and contextually help them in meaningful ways within a digital-first journey.”


The Atlanta-based NCR Voyix Corporation, previously known as NCR Corporation and National Cash Register, is a software, consulting and technology company providing several professional services and electronic products. (In October of 2023, NCR Corporation split into two companies. NCR Voyix took with it the company’s digital commerce product including digital banking, while NCR Atleos took the company’s ATM business.)


Douglas Brown

In the coming year, Brown said generative AI will dominate techs discussions, so he suggests that credit unions begin to “exercise and execute” use cases. 


“Leveraging the power of AI to help credit unions better organize, mine and understand the large amounts of member data available to them. This will be an area to watch moving forward,” he said, adding that he is “highly confident” that his wish will be realized.


“We are supporting many credit unions making the transition to become a data-driven organization right now. Challenges lie in carving out the right resources, including budget, talent and stakeholders’ buy-in from across the organization,” Brown continued. “The benefits of such a shift – greater member loyalty, more engagement, more accurate cross selling – far outweigh the near-term challenges and risks.”


As he considers 2024, Brown hopes that credit unions capitalize on the trusting relationship they have with members, which he noted in unique in the financial services space.


“This means finding relevant ways to deliver financial wellness initiatives, enabling greater choice when it comes to payments and enabling the digital-first experiences members crave – across all channels,” he said. “Those who are investing in the strategies and technology necessary will be well positioned to succeed next year and beyond.”


Wishing to Enhance Self-Service Channels


NCR Atleos Chief Operating Officer Stuart Mackinnon wishes that in 2024 credit unions invest in the necessary technology to “evolve branch strategies and facilitate a more modern, robust self-service” experience.


“This could entail outsourcing partial or complete management of ATM operations through an ATM-as-a-service model, incorporating greater automation across the branch, and/or exploring innovative strategies like a shared utility model where credit unions can plug into a network with ATMs located in trusted retail locations such as grocery, convenience/fuel and big box stores,” he told Finopotamus.


The Atlanta-based firm offers a self-service banking platform designed to optimize branch and shift transactions to ATM channels with digital-first technologies.


Stuart Mackinnon

“The goal is to provide members with a versatile, convenient and accessible banking experience that aligns with changing consumer preferences,” he noted. “Credit unions can optimize their physical footprints and efficiencies without sacrificing meaningful interactions and the human touch.”


Currently, he said NCR Atleos is assisting credit unions that are transforming their physical transaction strategies, but he noted that there are certain hurdles.


“A key challenge is investing in the right resources,” he noted. “Look for partners and technology that can bridge the gap between digital and physical and physical to digital transactions, and those that are proven in expanding financial services access to members.”


As he ponders the credit union industry in the coming year, he hopes for a continued focus on serving the needs of members and the communities in which they live and work.


“This involves expanding access to financial services and cash and providing the necessary support for the under and unbanked,” Mackinnon continued. “New cash deployment strategies, a shared ATM utility model and the reconfiguration of physical touchpoints can and should be used by credit unions to increase financial inclusion.”



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