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The amount of life packed into these last 10 months could fill a decade. In the scope of the financial services industry, it’s safe to say the country has had more than enough to handle!  The pandemic has pushed credit unions into the future in a matter of months, condensing years’ worth of digital transformation upgrades into weeks or months.

With credit unions closing branches, innovations like optimized digital service channels are suddenly essential to helping members stay connected and maintain their daily banking habits. Now, more than ever, use of digital and mobile banking is on the rise, while in-person visits continue to decline.

According to a study by Access Softek, almost 30 percent of respondents claimed they will continue to utilize digital banking channels, while 34 percent said those channels are better at meeting their financial needs. “This is an indicator that digital solutions have enabled many members to bank as usual, even during unprecedented interruptions,” the company said.

Even before the pandemic, 82% of bank customers preferred digital tools over in-branch banking. That number only continues to rise.

With those findings in mind, the challenge for credit unions lies in adjusting their business development strategies by forming new relationships and regaining financial stability in 2021’s ever-expanding digital marketplace. Federal economic relief temporarily assisted consumers and their businesses to keep them running, but credit unions also need to recognize and plan ahead when such short-term initiatives disappear. There has never been a better opportunity for credit unions to take a page out of the business-to-consumer fintech space and make themselves as accessible to their members as possible. “Embedded finance” is a $4 trillion market opening that credit unions cannot afford to miss.

Even before the pandemic hit earlier this year, the American Bankers Association found that 82 percent of bank customers preferred digital over in-branch banking. This number has no doubt increased since March and until the credit union industry invests an equal amount of effort into digital transformation initiatives, digital banking should be the leading priority. Those credit unions who don’t invest and fail to integrate necessary digital transformation initiatives in the near future may not be around to tell the tale.

The primary interface for leading digital banking into the future lies with mobile devices, especially during the COVID pandemic. The idea of catching the virus off keypads at the local ATM or even the risk of touching cash is more than enough of a reason to give credit union members a way around such dangerous risks. This advantage only bolsters fintech’s role in the future of mobile banking accessibility.

Moving into 2021, QCash Financial is focused on giving credit unions the most efficient, member-centric and accessible digital financial health tools to serve the financially vulnerable and help get members back on the path to financial health. Our automated, digital QCash small dollar lending platform is customizable to each specific credit union’s requirements and community. Its relationship-based underwriting algorithm employs subtle data analytics not found in a run-of-the-mill credit score to make loan approval decisions.

As difficult as 2020 has been, the new year offers opportunities for the world economy to come back even stronger than before. Against the industry’s natural inclination toward slow progress, COVID-19 spurred the acceleration of new fintech and data transformation initiatives. Sometimes the best innovations come under incredible pressure. 

For more info on our digital small dollar loan platform, visit our website and make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter! QCash Financial posts daily, with relevant and trending insights on small dollar lending and up-to-date credit union industry news.