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Considering the perseverance of the credit union movement these last couple years, its mission-driven ethic affords financial assistance to a broad array of members’ needs including payment deferrals, emergency loans, fee refunds, waivers, community support, and financial counseling. 

The difference moving forward is big banks’ endless quest to convert trusting credit union members through their doors. They’re banking on accomplishing that objective by making expensive in-house investments in digital service offerings, a central priority as financial services institutions race to the next technological advantage and outpace their competitors. 

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A recent PYMTS study found a concerted credit union focus on partnerships with new technology products to bolster member loyalty and ward off big banks’ influence on memberships. Former NCUA President and current board member Rodney Hood has stated he endeavors to help credit unions keep pace by providing more flexibility to invest in fintech and credit union service organizations [CUSOs], specifically.

“We need continued innovation in financial products that promote greater inclusion,” said former chairman Hood. “Credit unions have shown great creativity in developing new types of products, and I urge [the credit union movement] to keep up the good work.”

In recent years, it’s all about delivering the financial products, services, and member experiences the respective CUSO believes outperforms those from other competitors who want to tempt your credit union members away. Such products include integrated services like the QCash life event lending platform, contactless payment systems, payments choices, and more. 

In early-to-mid 2020, credit union adoption of CUSOs and fintech in general were considered lagging in their ability to add such digital member advantages to their suite of products and services. Active adoption of such digital banking and fintech tools increased drastically as the pandemic spread over the last two years. 

Photo: Catherine | Unsplash

Meeting member expectations and experience through digital CUSOs

CUSOs have a concerted focus on the needs and practices of credit unions and the member-owners they help. They exist to serve the needs and requirements of cooperatives, and are typically managed and run by professionals from the credit union community. 

They also began long ago to realize their importance to the future of the credit union movement. Why? Well, at the end of the day it comes down to fulfilling – and optimally surpassing – member expectations that will always be a moving target; goal posts that will always be shifting because the technology itself will always be evolving and improving. 

Ultimately, CUSOs and digital fintech feels more relevant now because integration has become a leading factor in member satisfaction. 

The “do-it-yourself” services digital CUSO products deliver for credit union members – with everything seamless, integrated, and at their fingertips – represents one area that cooperatives are increasingly focusing on. It’s so obvious now that credit union members are adapting to remote digital engagement with justified or unjustified expectations that digital platforms will work just as well as an in-person teller. With this “do-it-yourself” mentality of usership comes inquiries for how credit unions might replicate the in-branch member experience in their digital assets. 

It all adds up to what credit unions articulate most to CUSOs: the need to remain competitive, particularly when it comes to the larger banks that feature big-budget digital offerings they can use to make a play on cooperatives’ members. With bigger banks, applying for any number of services can be a smooth experience due to their unlimited budgets. Therefore, those credit unions are looking for CUSO partners that will move them to the front of the credit union pack in order to satisfy their members without sacrificing the member experience for which the credit union movement has built its reputation.

Digital banking and the impact of the CUSO industry is offering up a new future for credit unions, post-pandemic – at once sticking to the founding roots of serving cooperatives as they develop while staying up-to-date with new technologies like CUSOs. 

In such a newly-integrated financial services industry and an always-connected commercial economy, credit unions are connecting with CUSO partners like QCash to stay in touch with their members to deliver on the nearly-instantaneous digital products and services they’ve come to expect.