Listening to “CU2.0 Podcast Episode 39 Futurist Chris Skinner” at https://www.buzzsprout.com/268738/1252397-cu2-0-podcast-episode-39-futurist-chris-skinner #creditunion
Search Us, Says Google – MIT Technology Review http://bit.ly/2VWX1OO The McGarvey back pages.
The future of the ATM – CUInsight http://bit.ly/2CS8JAe
By Robert McGarvey
For Credit Union 2.0
Sign up as a new member at your credit union – or pick any credit union – and what happens?
Ask yourself a sharper question: what doesn’t happen? Think hard on that because the future of this new member relationship hangs in the balance.
Amy Downs, CEO at Allegiance Credit Union, a $260 million institution headquartered in Oklahoma City, has been thinking hard on these very questions and she believes she has found an answer that helps bring her credit union squarely into the 21st century’s digital world.
Mind you, Amy has worked at Allegiance for many years, 30 in fact. She remembers the new member welcomes of the old days. Back then Allegiance was officed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and it serviced federal employees. As new workers were onboarded by human resources, they ordinarily were brought by the credit union and of course they got a warm welcome from the credit union employees, recalled Amy. Many of those new employees signed up on the spot. And why not? They had been sincerely greeted by credit union employees – probably including the president, definitely senior managers. They knew they had a name and face they could seek out down the road if they had an issue they wanted to discuss.
What bank could match those human faces at the credit union?
Flashforward to nowadays and what happens when a new member joins a credit union? Increasingly that happens online. Then what? Probably there is a welcome email – and doesn’t that sound warm, friendly and inviting?
Probably, too, there is a welcome packet that arrives by US Mail – along with bunches of postcards from nearby dental offices, solicitations for donations, and maybe a past due notice on an electric bill.
Credit unions are scrambling – and many are failing – to make good, warm ties with new members. And many of those new members drift away or, even more commonly, they never put more than a few dollars into their credit union account. The bulk of their wallet is at another institution.
The future for credit unions is terrible – if things stay like this.
Matters got especially complicated at Allegiance. In 2002, the credit union got a community charter where it now serves people who live or work in the six counties around Oklahoma City.
In that transition, what was lost was that new employee introduction and that was a powerful moment that set up thousands of strong member – credit union relationships.
Amy thought on this and then she heard about an alternative. What she now sends new members is a welcome video in which her smiling face is on camera, offering a sincere happiness that the new member brought Allegiance their business.
A couple times a week she scans the list of new members and when she recognizes a name, she makes a personal video. When she saw a husband of a close personal friend, she laughingly said in that video, “About time you listened to your wife!”
But even with the members she doesn’t know, what they see in Amy’s video is a person who is glad to meet them.
“We are losing our personal touch, all credit unions are,” said Amy. “Everything has changed. It’s not the way it was, when we were on a first name basis with all our members. Now we have to work at it.”
When Amy heard about new member welcome videos, she wanted to know more. When she discovered the costs are nominal – she records her own, using a digital video recorder that cost $65 – and the actual time to record is a matter of minutes, she was all in.
Understand: the video is similar to what would have been an in-person meet and greet with a new member a generation ago. Amy’s videos are in the vicinity of 30 seconds. That matters because our attention spans just aren’t suited to movie-length video welcomes.
The bottomline for Amy and Allegiance: “We have to start marketing in different ways, or credit unions will be left behind.”
Use the technology that is readily available to forge stronger ties with new members. Welcome videos – absolutely – are a step in that direction.
Want to see Amy’s video? Click here.
By Robert McGarvey
A new report out of Celent asks a question that just may terrify you: Are banks ready for a real time world?
You probably know the answer at your credit union.
Join the club: many – probably most – credit unions are nowhere close to embracing a real time financial services universe.
Tell me why it takes a day – sometimes several days – to move money from an account at my credit union to a payee already in the system when, truly, it simply is a matter of shifting bits and bytes?
Money can – and now should – move as fast as a text message and if a friend in India sends me an SMS via Facebook right about now it is showing up in my FB queue.
It can happen in financial services. With money. Everybody – that means you – will have to climb aboard. “Real time payments,” said Celent, “have moved beyond being an if to a when.”
Here’s a Celent observation: “Most existing payment engines have a number of challenges in delivering real-time payments. First, they are generally batch-driven, rather than single message and instant, and so simply not suitable. The second, and less obvious reason, is that they require downtime for maintenance and upgrades, something that isn’t allowed in a real-time payment solution. Many real-time payment schemes only have downtime over the year measured in seconds. Old technology simply wasn’t designed to support that.”
What Celent is prescribing is adoption of a robust payments hub that can provide the 21st century world what it wants.
“Real-time payments require all the activity in the value chain to be carried out, typically in under a second, if not quicker. If all the processes are within the hub, they are easier to manage and coordinate. But as volumes increase, this becomes more and more essential. Furthermore, functions that sit within the hub will be subject to the same design requirements in terms of availability and maintenance,” wrote the Celent author, Gareth Lodge.
Some real time functions already are in use in the United States.
Digital currencies – the report pointed in particular to Ripple – are paving the way for a shift to real time money movement.
Zelle also is a step into real time for institutions that adopt it (and some credit unions already have – such as America First Credit Union and BECU). And Dwolla offers real time ACH transfer functionality.
Don’t necessarily expect smooth sailing for your institution into the real time universe. Exactly how – and how well – many competing real time systems will integrate with each other is not yet known.
Then, too, as Celent pointed out: “The term real-time payments perhaps hides an obvious truth: in order to make the payment real-time, everything and anything that touches the payment, including fraud checking, balance checks, and the front end initiation system have also to be real-time…24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
All of that represents a massive change in how credit unions work. Digital banks, Celent pointed out, are architected from the word “go” to handle real time. A legacy institution has a different, very real set of challenges. Said Celent: “Real-time payments then are the vanguard of the digital bank. New banks, built from the ground up, do not need to give this a second thought, but for any other bank, the task of converting from the existing infrastructure is a huge task.”
And the news gets worse. Said Celent: “Many banks still run core banking systems that are over a decade old. The chances are that unless it has been replaced within the last five years, it is still a batch system. This poses immediate challenges — how to update the customer balance until the next batch, overnight run.”
Institutions – and their cpre providers – are fiddling with workarounds. But that’s the point: there will definitely have to be workarounds and they may not always be easy, elegant or even straightforward.
What to do? The first step is recognizing that now indeed is the start of real time banking. That, said Celent, is integral to the transformation into the digital bank that just about all now know is the future. Wrote Celent: “Banks may see the need to move to a digital bank, but they may be struggling to make the business case for investing in real-time payments. Yet there is a confluence of the digital banking trend with real-time payments, as they share many of the same attributes and indeed, that make it impossible for a digital bank to truly exist without it.”
Absolutely right. Until real-time payments are part of the package the institution just isn’t a digital bank. Period.
Should wearables be on your tech radar in 2018? – CUInsight http://bit.ly/2G7oq5c
By Robert McGarvey
Wake up to a frightening reality: very probably your credit union is falling behind in the race for digital talent and that just may be a sound of impending doom.
Consulting firm CapGemini, working with LinkedIn, recently issued a report on The Digital Talent Gap and the takeaways for credit union executives have to be frightening.
According to CapGemini, six in ten banking executives acknowledge they face a widening talent gap. The report pinpoints banking as a sector where that gap is especially high.
The money center banks, almost certainly, are not pointing to themselves. They are busily hiring top digital talent as they chart their paths into a 21st century where digital is seen as the core of banking. They see that future and they are preparing for it.
Down a checklist, CapGemini sees less skill than is needed in a range of digital activities that are central to banking today. Included on the list are cybersecurity, mobile apps (where a big skill deficit is cited), data science, and big data (another huge deficit).
A lot of what has become core in delivering financial services is now emerging as areas where many, many credit unions and community banks are just not keeping up because they don’t have the talent to stay in the game.
Employees know these realities. According to the survey data, 30% of banking employees believe their skills will be redundant in one to two years. 44% believe their skills will be redundant in four or five years.
That suggests a frightened, anxious workforce.
Employees also express dissatisfaction with trainings offered them by their organization. 45% say they are not helping them attain new skills. 42% say the trainings they attend are “useless and boring.”
Question: does your credit union leadership know their own employees fear their institution is lagging in the race for digital competence – and that they despair over the viability of their own skills?
It gets worse. You just may lose the digital talent you presently have. The CapGemini survey found that “over half of digital talent (55%) say they are willing to move to another organization if they feel their digital skills are stagnating.”
The good news: CapGemini offered concrete suggestions about what organizations need to do to remain players in the race for digital talent.
A suggestion not on the list is blunt: credit unions often will need to find their digital talent through third party vendors and CUSOs. No shame in that. At a certain institutional size, the savvy survival strategy is to know where to go outside to help chart the credit union’s digital path. There still needs be digital skills internally – especially a sharp sensitivity to what matters digitally inside the c-suite. But a lot of the digital heavy lifting can and should happen through third parties at all but the very largest credit unions.
But the biggest credit unions need to be sure they are nurturing internal digital talent. And smaller institutions need to know what they can do with the talent they have and they also need to stay watchful of their third party vendors and their talent development efforts.
Just because a CUSO was spot on technologically in 2010 doesn’t mean it has a clue today. Things move very fast in this world.
That’s where the CapGemini suggestions about how to develop digital talent come in.
And step one is Attract Digital Talent where CapGemini points a finger at the institution’s leadership. Specifically: “Align leadership on a talent strategy and the unique needs of digital talent.”
How does your credit union measure up there?
Does your leadership see the ultimate importance of digital in charting the institution’s future?
The next steps are no easier: “create an environment that prioritizes and rewards learning” and “align leadership on a talent strategy and the unique needs of digital talent.”
Digital warriors go where they are loved and wanted. It’s that simple.
One more step: “Give digital talent the power to implement change.”
This doesn’t sound easy?
Nope. It all is very hard, especially for small and mid size credit unions.
But the alternative just may be planning to go out of business.
That makes the choice easy.
By Robert McGarvey
It was 10 years ago that you probably first experienced inflight WiFi and if you are like me you remember that moment with delight. GoGo rolled out WiFi to a handful of flights on a handful of carriers (American Airlines, Virgin America, Delta, Air Canada, Air Tran Airways and United) in 2009 and, pretty soon, I was picking flights based upon my guess about WiFi availability.
How cool was it to email at 30,000 feet? Very. And, honestly, the speeds just didn’t seem slow back then – in part because users were few.
Meantime, think about today where there’s WiFi in coffee shops, homes, fast food restaurants and – you know what? – it is pretty much ubiquitous. In Phoenix there’s even free WiFi on the lightrail ($4 to ride all day), just about every coffee shop offers it, and so do apartment house lobbies, doctors waiting rooms, and I could on on.
Where we are, WiFi is.
Except on airplanes.
Let’s put aside the issue of how bad – slow, overpriced, unreliable – inflight WiFi has become. There also very real issues around security (or lack thereof), where everybody from crooks to government agencies may be eavesdropping on your keystrokes. We’ll get to that momentarily.
For now what grabs me is that WiFi is very far from ubiquitous inflight – indeed odds are that any given seat will not have WiFi, according to a report from Routehappy. That report says that 43%
of available seat miles (ASMs) worldwide have at least a chance of Wi-Fi on board. Note that hedge – at least a chance. That’s because many planes claim WiFi but it may not in fact be actually working.
That 43% is up from 39% last year – which highlights the slow pace of upgrades.
This means 57% of seats have zero chance of providing WiFi.
US carriers are better than the rest, per Routehappy: “U.S. airlines offer at least a chance of Wi-Fi on 86% of their ASMs, with 85% of ASMs fully rolled out.” It added: “Non-U.S. airlines offer at least a chance of Wi-Fi on 32% of their ASMs, up by 14% from the 2017 report.”
Now chew on this: “Three carriers now offer Wi-Fi on 100% of their flights: Icelandair, Southwest, and Virgin Atlantic.” That means many, many dozens don’t. By Routehappy’s count, 82 airlines globally offer WiFi, so that means 79 don’t offer it on all flights.
A morsel of good news is that “13 airlines globally offer Wi-Fi on 100% of long-haul flights: Air Europa, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Eurowings, EVA Air, Iberia, Kuwait, Lufthansa, SAS, Scoot, United, and Virgin Atlantic.”
Another morsel: “While passengers have come to expect Wi-Fi on large global airlines, many smaller airlines have now begun offering Wi-Fi as well. Air Astana from Kazakhstan, Air Côte d’Ivoire from Ivory Coast, and Air Mauritius from Mauritius are just a few of the numerous smaller airlines that began offering Wi-Fi in 2017.”
Nonetheless, the bad news is that when flying overseas, you have a better than even chance of not having WiFi access.
Despite the rising global ubiquity of WiFi.
Routehappy, by the way, holds out hope for the disgruntled passengers – myself often among them – who no longer even try to use inflight WiFi. My usual preference is to read a book on my iPad – and I carefully insure the books I want to access are downloaded before I leave for the airport.
At most I will do a fast email session inflight. But not usually.
But there are glimmers of hope that our increasingly loud kvetching about WiFi quality will be dealt with by the carriers. Said Routehappy: “Best Wi-Fi is now available on 16% of ASMs worldwide, representing a staggering 129% increase from the 2017 report.”
It defines “Best WiFi” this way: “Fastest Wi-Fi systems currently available, capable of advanced media streaming (whether allowed by airline or not); comparable to a home connection.”
That is good news on first glance but on second what it says is 84% of ASMs don’t have “best WiFi.”
In the 2017 Routehappy report, by the way, it noted that 6% of flights offered “best WiFi.”
There has been progress in bringing “best WiFi” to more passengers globally – but not a lot, not really.
And airlines plan to get us viewing movies and such on this “Best” WiFi – and how good is your cable connection at home when you try to stream a movie on Friday night?
Don’t expect better even from “Best” WiFi on long, packed flights. I know I’m not. I saw the drop in inflight quality circa 2012 as more of us discovered it and started using it. Similar will befall “Best” WiFi and it will surely deteriorate.
That’s why for now I’ll stick with my plan to read books on my iPad, maybe make notes in my paper calendar-planner.
But has anything really changed?
By Robert McGarvey
Think very – that’s the question’s answer. But maybe you already have in hand the exact weapons you need to defend your position. Surprised?
Triggering this discussion is a recent Snarketing post by Cornerstone Advisors’ Ron Shevlin that offered hard data about Amazon’s potential popularity as a consumer bank.
Cornerstone had surveyed 2015 consumers – with both a bank account and a smart phone – and asked two questions: would you bank with Amazon for a free checking account? Would you pay, $5 or $10 monthly, for a premium checking account that bundled in perhaps cell phone damage protection or roadside assistance?
Before guessing the answers – they will surprise you – feast on this recent headline from the Evening Standard newspaper in London: Is data the new oil? How information became the fuel of the future.
That question is deeply intertwined with Amazon’s possible banking play.
Ask yourself: what US company knows an incredible amount about you, probably more than any other? Hint: it’s a company that sells just about everything, much of it delivered free within two days.
Amazon, very quietly, has emerged as a real king of the data mountain. Google may know what interests you, Facebook may know who your friends (and enemies!) are, and Apple knows what tech bling you will splurge on, but Amazon – in many households – knows everything you buy, from groceries to clothes.
In 2017 Amazon tells me I placed 107 orders. Many were for multiple items. From cat food to an Echo Look.
Think how well that data resource positions Amazon to pounce into banking. It knows its many millions of customers, it’s already providing credit cards and purchase credit to millions of them, and CEO Jeff Bezos has never shied away from offering discounts if he believes doing so will produce longterm profits.
Will Bezos take the plunge into the slow moving financial services world? Do we – consumers – want him to?
A free Amazon account just might seem to be a threat to a credit union sweet spot. According to Bankrate.com, 84% of credit union checking accounts have no monthly maintenance fee, up from 72% a couple years earlier. For many credit unions, this is a key marketing difference.
And yet Cornerstone’s research found something interesting. Asked if they wanted a free Amazon checking account, 42% of consumers said nope. Just 26% said they would open it. Another 32% said they would consider it.
Matters get more intriguing when Cornerstone asked if they wanted a premium, bundled account with a small monthly fee of $5 or $10. Only 34% said no thanks – that’s sharply down from the 42% who rejected the free account.
And 29% said they would open it, up from the 26% who said they would open a free account.
Does free carry less weight than you thought?
Is it maybe time to rethink using free as the centerpiece of the institution’s marketing?
Shevlin stressed that, at least superficially, the institutions that would be most impacted by an Amazon entry into banking would be the money center banks, mainly because they are courting millennials who, Cornerstone said, are the ones most attracted to the Amazon potential products.
But Shevlin tossed out this poisoned dart: “The smaller financial institutions are already challenged in attracting younger consumers to their institutions. An Amazon entrance into banking will only make it harder for them.”
And remember this: Amazon may well know your members better than you do.
Frightening? You bet. But there is that solution that already is in your hands. The solution is to fight back by diving ever deeper into member data. The data will tell you your next steps – if you learn to listen to it.
Plenty of credit union focused big data experts are adamant that credit unions can fight back against the Amazons.
Fight data with data.
You have lots of data, from sharedraft accounts, credit and debit cards, maybe car loans and home mortgages. Use the data you have to prepared a battle plan.
You will need it because, whether Amazon takes the plunge into consumer banking or not, other non banks will. They already are circling this pond and they act as though they smell blood in the water.
You have the data. It’s the only weapon you need.
And remember that in the 21st century data is indeed the new oil. Let it power your institutional growth.
By Robert McGarvey
A credit union leader has to break out in a cold sweat reading Aite Group’s new report on the top 10 trends transforming retail banking.
Here’s trend 1: Tech Firms Become Banks.
Trend 2 is blunter: Banks become tech firms.
That latter trend ends with this prediction: “Going forward, the banks that quickly adapt and recognize this shift will stay relevant to their customers and even gain a stronger foothold in the market. Those that do not will struggle to acquire and retain customers, and to survive.”
Read that again. What Aite is saying is that credit unions that don’t climb aboard the tech express are doomed.
Does that mean you?
I’m not aware of an exact count but I would be surprised if at least half of today’s credit unions aren’t hopelessly mired in a Luddite world of anti technology. So many want to blather on about how great their branches are and what wonders their employees are, as though either matters in a 21st century technology world.
But back up. Look at the threat. Increasingly, tech companies from Quicken Loans to PayPal are gobbling up traditional bank and credit union business.
Non banks are on track to very soon have more than 50% of the home mortgage business. PayPal and Venmo, meantime, are feasting on p2p payments, a niche many credit union executives saw as theirs just five years ago but between bad tools and bad marketing, credit unions are increasingly irrelevant in a sector that looms as one of the key financial tools used by Millennials,
Amazon, maintime, has made more than $1 billion in small business loans – how many bankers and credit union execs even know they are in that business? Credit unions may want to up their business lending operations, but do they have a market that craves their offerings?
Non banks also are zeroing in on car loans.
Some techs may even unfurl official banking colors. Aite’s Julie Conroy, in an email, wrote this: “Square already has a bank charter application in progress, and I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that Amazon would set up a wholly owned sub to do something similar.”
Amazon and PayPal both have been meeting with bank regulators. Nobody knows exactly why but a good guess is that both are interested in expanding their bank-like activities (with or without bank charters).
Conroy, in the report, also warns that banks – this also means you, credit unions – are increasingly becoming what she calls an ingredient brand to whom the consumer has little or no loyalty. The consumer uses Apple Pay, does he/she remember what financial institution it is connected through? Ditto PayPal. Android Pay. Etc. They all run on financial institution rails but few consumers really care what card is connected. They see themselves as Apple Pay loyalists, period.
And she points to Asia where Alibaba and Tencent “have made substantial inroads” into banking.
There are no good reasons to think similar won’t happen here.
David Albertazzi, writing in the Aite report, offered this warning: “FIs need to change entering 2018. They need to fundamentally shift their mindset, business model, and operating model. They must be equipped to fight for the modern consumer—who, because of technology, has a whole new set of expectations. The modern consumer doesn’t want a traditional branch bank. They want their transactions to happen on their mobile devices in real time and on-demand. This is why FIs must become tech companies and provide elegant, nimble, and technologically sophisticated solutions to their customers.”
He also advised a “sharp increase in digital transformation.” So right. It’s hard to find a credit union that doesn’t have a digital transformation committee. But it’s harder to find a credit union where that committee has any say beyond what doughnuts to serve at the next meeting. It just is time to get very serious about digital transformation.
That’s because your institutional life depends on it.
Wrote Conroy in her email to me: “Effective use of technology will be increasingly important to competition for FIs of all sizes. Those FIs that don’t invest (either in their own tech stack, or by finding progressive processing partners) and are constrained by legacy technology will increasingly be marginalized.”
What do you need to do now? Commit to going digital – really – in the next year or two. Poll members on what digital tools they want and offer them. Keep hunting for powerful digital tools your members will want.
And ask yourself this: if I didn’t have to use my institution’s technology, would I?
If you wouldn’t, why are you offering it to members?
Read the Aite report. It’s short. But it will give you sleepless nights.
And that is good for you as you face a crossroads in consumer banking where those who take the wrong fork are heading towards extinction.
Take the other fork.