Tech People in the Know: Tede Forman
Updated: Jan 12
In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus will profile interesting and intriguing tech professionals who are positively impacting the credit union industry.
For this issue, we spent time with Jack Henry & Associates’ Vice President of Jack Henry Payment Solutions Tede Forman. The Monett, Mo. -based technology and payment processing service company serves the financial services industry and counts more than 8,500 customers, including many credit unions, nationwide.
By W.B. King
While attending the University of Kentucky in the early 1980s, Tede Forman began his tech career working part-time shifts in the data processing department at a local bank.
“Technology has always excited me,” he said.
Over the course of his career, Forman has seen a shift in how technology departments and respective teams are viewed. Information technology, he noted, is now considered an “integral part of how businesses function, creating a partnership intended to solve problems and innovate” opposed to solely “processing data” and generating results.
“Such a partnership has brought people and processes together to grow the business, instead of them acting in silos. I’ve seen technology become much more important to the member experience versus being a necessary evil,” said Forman. “Credit unions are finding ways to work with their partners to streamline back-office operations as well as provide more modern and uniquely personal experiences to members. Institutions are using technology to collaborate, communicate and serve their members more efficiently and effectively.”
Traversing the Payments Landscape
Forman, who assumed his current position as vice president of Jack Henry Payment Solutions in July 2021, began his tenure with the company nearly 11 years ago as a senior director of Software Engineering, before assuming other high profile positions. Prior to joining Jack Henry, he served in numerous technology and payments roles, including director of information technology at WellPoint Health Networks (now Anthem) and senior information technology manager at Humana.
“I’m passionate about how technology can help credit unions stay relevant and competitive in today’s landscape and my position at Jack Henry allows me to help them on both fronts,” said Forman. The company, he added, has approximately 6,800 associates, 2,745 of which work in a technology capacity.
When asked what has recently surprised him most in the payments arena, he said the speed of change as well as “how much digital adoption has focused on the user experience.” The pandemic, he added, underscored these factors.
“I believe we’ll see small businesses and gig workers continue to leverage real-time payments to improve cash flow and better manage their finances,” said Forman. “As more players enter the space, credit unions will need to adapt to these shifts and determine where to place their bets.”
Regarding the impact COVID-19 will have on the future of payments, Forman said the need for faster digital payments has accelerated and estimates this sector will continue to see high growth.
“There’s a surge in usage and strong desire to have these types of payments from both the credit union and member perspective. For example, through the pandemic, we’ve seen mobile remote deposit capture (RDC) grow over 25% annually as more credit unions decide to onboard these capabilities,” he continued. “And with more than 75% of all U.S. face-to-face transactions taking place at contactless enabled terminals, now is the time for late adopter issuers to prioritize enhancing their card portfolios. There’s never been a greater need to offer digitized and safer payment options today.”
Another lesson learned over the last 18-plus months is a “heightened need to support small businesses with tailored financial services and products,” he said. “This directly reflects how much these businesses are relying on their credit unions to help them navigate these challenging times.”
Turnkey Payments Hub
In July 2021, Jack Henry announced that it enhanced its shared business initiative with Autobooks. The Detroit, Mich.-based company is an integrated-payments provider helping small businesses send invoices, get paid and automate accounting.
“Our expanded partnership with Autobooks is one that we’re proud of as we democratized receivables tools and made them a standard part of the digital banking experience. We helped lower the barrier of innovation and dramatically reduce the resources required for credit unions to launch these financial management tools that rival non-bank and megabank providers,” said Forman. “Like JHA PayCenter, this is an example of how we’re making relevant technology and tools accessible to both credit unions and their members.”
The JHA PayCenter, Forman explained, is “empowering community financial institutions to compete,” adding that this “turnkey faster payments hub” enables access to leading payment networks like Zelle, from Early Warning and RTP from The Clearing House.
“We’ve done the heavy lifting so our clients can benefit from quicker, more efficient, and cost-effective conduits to these payment networks, enabling them to offer faster payments and innovations to compete against aggressive payment disruptors and own these channels,” he said.
Understanding the Member Experience
In Forman’s view, many fintechs, big techs, and retailers struggle to understand the credit union ethos of “people helping people.” He attributes this failing to these entities’ inability to differentiate between a bank and a credit union. To this end, he said these companies “build products that own the entire customer experience lifecycle.”
He offered Amazon as an example. This tech juggernaut, he noted, offers food services, retail products, credit card solutions, among other services, and now is “dipping its proverbial toe in the pool” of financial services. But Amazon isn’t alone in this pursuit.
“Walgreens launching its rewards credit card to reward customers for healthy choices by offering competitive cash back offers to encourage spending on their card. And Square launching Square Banking to entice small businesses with a full suite of financial services and products that they currently aren’t receiving at their financial institutions,” Forman said. “Some fintechs – Varo comes to mind – are seeing value in becoming a bank to ‘own’ the entire banking relationship, effectively making their technology central to customers’ financial lives.”
While these companies are spending considerable amounts of money to drive customer adoption through respective intelligence platforms and then expand these relationships through financial service offerings, these organizations are at a disadvantage in at least one respect, he noted.
“They lack the 100-plus year-old relationship that credit unions have built and maintained with their members,” said Forman. But even though credit unions have this “deep human-centered connection” with membership, he added that many credit unions are missing “the ability to innovate and respond” quickly to consumers’ demands.
“Fintechs are generally competing for customers across the entire financial services ecosystem. Jack Henry’s open infrastructure allows for more integration and innovation to happen, creating opportunities for effective partnerships and embedded fintech to exist,” said Forman. “Our Jack Henry Digital Toolkit is a great example of this, enabling financial institutions to provide popular customer services applications as well as partner with industry leaders, such as Plaid, Finicity, Akoya, and more.”
For credit unions to “successfully succeed in an increasingly crowded and tough competitive landscape,” Forman said they will need to partner with technology providers that have the open architecture that encourages collaboration and fosters innovation.
“An open infrastructure is how credit unions can offer better member services and experiences, while still owning the relationships they’ve worked so hard to build and that differentiate them from other providers in the space,” said Forman. “Credit unions have a strong focus on the member and creating a personalized experience. Using the term member really highlights that the experience is personal and truly a part of the organization, not just a customer.”
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