Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: services

A Little Intelligence On Artificial Intelligence

A few months back, I shared my first audio post.  It was incredibly well received.  In that I enjoyed it and other people (probably) listened to it.  With such a successful start, how could I go wrong returning to the medium?

I read a lot of industry publications.  Probably too many.  But that means a win for you, my reader, since you glean the best of that time spent!  If trending articles don’t mention Millennials or how to maximize your social media presence, they’re discussing the brave new world of AI, Artificial Intelligence.  Even on my blog, the 2nd most popular post is about AI.  Here’s the degree of impact it stands to make for the industry: Everything you research or decide with a person will be done, faster, more reliably, with a computer system.  So, a big deal.

We’re not talking T-1000s in your branches (though they would be formidable security guards).  Nor does it have anything to do with the AI advances you hear Elon Musk warning us against.  For financial institutions, AI is simply a software system that can dive into a ton of data (that you already have) and make accurate risk and other determinations.  It’s nothing new for your credit union, only doing the same thing better and faster.  While serving your members anywhere, on their terms.

Of course, since this is an audio post, stop reading and just push play!

If, after listening, you have more questions about AI (which you should), feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me directly.  I can provide a number of references to companies doing all of these things today within the financial world.  Are they a fit for your institution?  That’s for you to decide.  But I will say one thing with certainty: AI technologies will become the de-facto determination platforms for most company decisions in the near future.

PS – AI isn’t just for financial institutions.  It’s going beyond and helping serve the unbanked around the world.  Here’s an example of a company seeking to provide credit for the developing world.  Their system uses 10,000 data points on each person, collected by their phone app only (texts, contacts, and much more) to determine if they are credit worthy in 10 minutes or less.  No credit bureau, no credit risk agent, nothing.  Can your credit union do that?  Because if not, there’s an AI tech which might be a fit (Disclosure: I’ve interacted with one of their team members).

Image credit: Giphy (Terminator 2, but you, an honorable geek, already knew that!)

Are You Recharging Your Services?

Originally published on

My office recently purchased some upgraded devices to replace aging computer technology. One of those which drew the short straw was an original iPad. Yes, the big heavy one made in 2010. Or, for kids today, “the iPad that doesn’t take selfies.” It still works as well as it did on release day, but it’s unable to keep up with the needs of our office. In essence, the world got faster, but it stayed the same.

During its later days, the iPad was hardly even being used. I had to leave it plugged in for 24 hours before it had enough charge to boot. Frankly, I’m surprised it even came back on. But, it did, and after restoring it as new, it is now waiting for me to figure out how to best embrace its capabilities. A digital picture frame? Perhaps. A mobile streaming music player? Maybe.

While it sat, the charge slowly diminished. The battery stayed strong for a while, then as dis-use took its toll, began to fall flat. By the time it had reached 0%, it was so ignored that no one even noticed. We never even saw the numerous low battery warnings.

Since you’re a regular reader of the Credit Union Geek, you know where this is going. Yes, to the credit unions!

Let’s imagine a new service or offering as this iPad when we first got it. When your staff is engaging with it, talking to members, and otherwise “recharging” the service, you find success. Members flock to the concept, management is happy, and the figurative charge remains strong. After some time, the novelty wears off, and it sits idle more often than not. MSRs don’t “charge” (talk about) the service, and the battery (performance) diminishes. What attracted 500 members a month now catches the eye of barely 100. “Is this service worth our continued effort?” the department vice president asks. Yes! If you plug it in and get re-engaged.

You don’t let your essential electronics sit in idle, wasting away valuable battery. You plug them in to recharge. It’s the same with your credit union’s services. If the staff isn’t regularly “plugging it in”, results will suffer and interest will wane. It’s how you go from a knockout campaign to a lackluster afterthought.

What’s the percent charge on your credit union’s services?

Disclosure: My company offers services to credit union clients. If our clients “recharge” the excitement on programs we have with them, I stand to gain a financial benefit. But isn’t that quite a stretch in conflict of interest?

Image credit:

Are You A Dumb Pipe? (Part 1)

Are dark days ahead for credit unions? I hope not. Changing my name will be a real pain.

You’ve heard the rumblings. “Credit unions don’t adopt modern technology, so Millenials will abandon them.” “Traditional financial institutions are the analog film of our time.” Just as computers did not herald the end of paper, mobile and other technologies will not doom the bank.

There is another possibility, however, and the term originates as a descriptor of the telecom industry as content providers (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) grew in leaps and bounds. They did not want to be stuck delivering only the signal, but to get a piece of the action. To be an active participant, instead of…A Dumb Pipe.

I am a member of a credit union (duh), but I’ll be honest: I use their app solely for deposits. All my other financial management, from account balances to budgeting, is managed elsewhere. I use a platform called Mint, though there are others delivering a similar service. In one place, I can see (but not change) my entire financial life and how trends, budgets, and savings coexist. Do I want to know how much I’ve dedicated towards taxes this year? Easy. What is my total debt to income ratio? Done. Compared to the six-month period prior? Still not a challenge.

This is one possible future of financial management, but there’s another far more menacing to the incumbents: Becoming a dumb bank.

Imagine a future where all your members want from you is a place to hold their money, a big safe. All member-facing products and services are managed by other companies. Not only do you rarely become front stage for your members (unless something goes wrong), you have few opportunities to discuss the programs which support the institution. Guess someone else will reap the profits of your debit cards.

But all is not darkness ahead! This is an important topic, so to ensure I’m covering it sufficiently, the discussion is separated into three parts. Next post, we will look at new technologies and strategies in the financial services industry. We will work together to figure out how you can become a leader through partnerships and smart growth, because “dumb” and “credit unions” should not be uttered in the same sentence.  The final discussion will address the challenges of adopting new tech and avoiding alienation of your comfortable members; is there a way to be future-ready while preserving your core?  That’s a question for a few weeks from now.  Be sure to subscribe to my e-mails (on your right) so you don’t miss anything!

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