The Official CO-OP Financial Services Blog

CO-OP Financial Services Blog: Insight Vault

Improving Economy Leading to a More Romantic America?

General / by

Americans are perhaps feeling more romantic in addition to feeling more confident about the steadily improving economy.

Research by three organizations serving the community-based financial institution (FI) industry reveals Valentine’s Day-related purchasing was way up in 2015. The Members Group (TMG) found credit spending increased 21 percent, and CO-OP Financial Services and Saylent Technologies, Inc. (Saylent) found debit spending increased 16 percent for the three days culminating in Valentine’s Day compared to 2014.

The 21 percent increase in credit spending is based on transactions made from Thursday, Feb. 12 through Saturday, Feb. 14 by users carrying credit cards issued by TMG’s FI clients. TMG’s analysts attribute this to healthy growth in credit card portfolios of TMG’s clients and the fact cardholders used their credit cards on average 3.5 percent more this year as compared to last year. The analysis is via the card processor’s proprietary analysis tool, ClearTrend. The tool can provide similar data on a per-FI basis for the processing clients of TMG.

TMG also found at that while Millennials (age 18-29) made 58 percent more transactions than the next closest age bracket, they spent far less. Millennials spent an average of $39.09 – 65 percent less than the next lowest age bracket (age 30-39). In addition, out of the three days, the day before Valentine’s Day (Friday, Feb. 13) saw the most credit transactions – 9.3 percent more than Feb. 12 and 5.7 percent more than Feb. 14.

During the same Thursday through Saturday period, CO-OP and Saylent found a 16.45 percent increase in debit card spending. The results covered debit activity at all of the merchant types that Saylent tracks nationwide by members of credit unions that use CO-OP for transaction processing. The year-over-year comparison was performed through an advanced analytics solution, CO-OP Revelation, powered by Saylent, and was conducted by Saylent’s FInsights360 consulting team.

CO-OP and Saylent additionally found that people used their debit cards more this year when buying loved ones products to help them check off their “honey-do” lists and better their homes. This is reflected in an almost 38 percent increase in transactions and close to 49 percent increase in spend at home supply warehouse stores.

The two companies also found that consumers used their debit cards more to go out for romantic dinners and drinks, with a more than 33 percent increase in transactions and 47 percent jump in spend at restaurants, and a 79 percent increase in transactions and more than 79 percent increase in spend at bars compared to last year during this time period.

You can read the full report of findings on Valentine’s Day shopping 2015 here.

Do You Believe in Miracles? Yes!

General / by

February 22 marked the 35th anniversary of the famous “Miracle on Ice” ice hockey game between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. at the 1980 Winter Olympics, sparking a wide range of commemorations.

But credit unions were making miracles of their own in 2014 for children in need of hospital care – and they have an opportunity to do so again in 2015.

A total of 170 credit unions participating in the 2014 Miracle Match by CO-OP program raised a record $3.1 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, $1 million of which was matching funds provided by CO-OP Financial Services.

Credit unions interested in applying for matching grants in 2015 under the Miracle Match by CO-OP program may do so by visiting www.co-opfs.org/miracle-match.

Significant milestones of the 2014 matching program include:

  • 190 fundraising events were matching by CO-OP;
  • This total includes 34 Shop for Miracles events, held on International Credit Union Day, October 16, 2014, raising more than $84,000;
  • 170 credit unions participated in the program;
  • For 69 of these credit unions, it was their first year of participation;
  • 110 CMN Hospitals benefited in 41 states; and
  • $2,089,631 was raised by credit unions, with a $1 million match from CO-OP, bringing the total to just under $3.1 million. 

“The Miracle Match by CO-OP program continues to play a vital role in the success and growth of the Credit Unions for Kids program,” said Joe Dearborn, Senior Director, Credit Unions for Kids. “Events and campaigns that got their start because of the matching program years ago are still around today, raising critical funds for our CMN Hospitals across the U.S. I guess you could call it the gift that keeps on giving”

CMN Hospitals recently said thank you to Credit Unions for Kids and CO-OP Financial Services through an electronic billboard that ran in Times Square in New York earlier this month. That story can be read on Insight Vault, here.

For more information on Miracle Match by CO-OP, visit www.co-opfs.org/miracle-match, and to learn more about how CO-OP helps credit unions in their philanthropic endeavors, read here (PDF).

In-Lobby Teller Helping Transform Branch

General / by

To build on their success and deliver even higher service levels, many of the nation’s leading credit unions are transforming their branches with innovative new technologies and business models designed to carry them into the future.

“When a credit union develops a branch transformation strategy, the key objective is usually two-fold: to increase its own efficiencies and provide a better in-branch experience for members now and in the future,” says Terry Pierce, senior product manager for CO-OP.

Headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo., Bellco Credit Union recently deployed its third In-Lobby Teller at its Stapleton branch (opened in April 2014), and has plans to deploy three more at other locations in early 2015. In-Lobby Teller from Diebold, Incorporated, is CO-OP’s newest self-service platform, and is designed for virtually any size credit union.

“The In-Lobby Teller feels more like a tablet than a standard ATM,” says Jared Dryer, north district manager for Bellco CU. (See photo of Bellco CU employee orienting a member to the ILT). “This branch has been set up for technology, and our universal bankers are there because they are engaged with technology. So having it there is opening up dialogs between our staff and members.”

One of the most powerful features of the In-Lobby Teller is its deposit automation technology. With it, members can deposit multiple checks or notes, as well as a mix of checks and cash, all envelope-free. They can also withdraw in denominations down to the dollar.

“Now our members can get 99 dollars as opposed to 100, and the interaction is all touch-based,” says Doug Kearbey, the CU’s senior director of administrative services.

In addition, the In-Lobby Teller features a 19-inch color display that operates as a touch screen and offers easy navigation through its menus. Its language is much more conversational than a traditional ATM, and the high-quality display serves as a platform to help credit unions market their products and services.

“Allowing the ILTs to handle the transactions enables our universal bankers to build a relationship and focus directly on the member and their needs rather than the transaction itself, says Dryer. “This enhances the member experience by allowing us the opportunity to meet more of the member’s long-term financial needs.”

You can read more about Bellco CU’s use of In-Lobby Teller in a story on the website of Credit Union Management, and in a CO-OP-produced white paper (PDF), shown at the left.

Q&A on the Emergence and Importance of the API

General / by

CO-OP recently sat down with Amanda Smith, CO-OP’s Manager of Emerging Products, to discuss the evolution and impact of Application Programming Interfaces (API) in the mobile banking landscape.

Other industries are already realizing the benefits of expanding customer value through seamless integration. For example, Uber has an API that allows you to arrange for a ride by pressing a button within the Open Table app. And Walgreen’s has enlisted the help of an API from the fitness company Qardio to build loyalty by rewarding customers to track their health metrics.

Now it’s time for credit unions to seize the opportunity to capitalize on the ease and convenience APIs offer. The following interview provides an overview of APIs and how CO-OP is developing solutions to suit a variety of needs.

Q: How have mobile trends evolved over the past two to three years?

A: The first place I go is to mobile banking. It was largely a transactional platform. I see that evolving and becoming a holistic engagement platform. Expanding to more product features and wallet programs. Omni-channel is cliché, but it’s meaningful. If you think about the last 15 years, online banking was the way credit unions interacted. Now they have to take that experience and cross multiple platforms and all digital channels. That will require a lot of integration and more engagement.

Q: What is an API?

A: API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’s a set of protocols, specifications and others tools that are used for developing software applications.

Q: How is an API different from an app, in terms of function and integration? Why would someone choose one over the other?

A: An app is the end-result product. APIs run in the background and are the structure of the application. At CO-OP, we looked at our strategy, predominantly in the mobile space, as to how we offer products. If we look at the technology rails themselves, in addition to how we offer an application, it enables us to extend our reach. Some credit unions can take on new features now, and some are fast followers—so we need a variety of ways to meet their needs. The apps are turnkey or configurable solutions, but the credit unions don’t need to worry about development. They can adopt the app as a standalone product. Whereas the API allows credit unions that have the ability to do the development to have more flexibility and control over the user experience, brand experience and final result in app form.

Q: Why does CO-OP see such an importance in APIs?

A: We wanted to meet the varied needs of customers. Also, we are aware that credit unions don’t want customers to need 16 apps. Leveraging APIs makes it more modular.

Q: Why did CO-OP choose this particular suite?

A: Through our experience and research, we identified APIs that would appeal to a larger set of credit unions. RealPay, CardNav—the products we chose­ cover the essential services. They can pick the ones they want and put them together in a customized solution. 

Q: What is the future of APIs for CO-OP and the industry in general?

A: Having services that are more modular enables you to integrate into other systems and products. This creates an opportunity for more holistic engagement and convergence of channels. Credit unions are able to plug and play features into multiple areas. In terms of the future, this will be more of a consistent way for us to offer up new products, making them more modular and more flexible.

Q: Can these APIs integrate into any mobile banking product or just CO-OP Mobile products?

A: Any mobile product. That’s the beauty of it and why it is beneficial. Credit unions can choose the best-of-breed services to tailor the mobile experience the way they want it.

Q: Is the API suite a good fit for everyone?

A: For the most part, yes. However, some credit unions may not have the budget or technology bandwidth to make the most of APIs. That’s why we also offer more turnkey apps, such as Sprig, and configurable applications, like CO-OP Mobile.

Q: Is there a benefit to getting the whole suite vs. just one?

A: Utilizing an entire suite from a single provider enables consistency in data and structure. Integrating additional apps is easier because you have an established path. You have the baseline started when you begin with the first one. Then, you also get consistency in terms of the end-user experience, as well. Ultimately, it translates into more commonality across the services.

Visit the Mobile Trends Resource Center for more information on trends in the mobile space and look out for more information to come on CO-OP’s API Suite.

The Next Generation of CO-OP Mobile Has Arrived

General / by

This month, CO-OP Financial Services launched a completely redesigned version of CO-OP Mobile built to meet the increasing demand for advanced capabilities. Introduced in 2009, CO-OP Mobile was among the first mobile banking solutions in the industry. The full-featured application has since undergone updates to implement several technological advancements. The latest version, however, has been entirely overhauled to incorporate a suite of features and functionality that consumers highly desire.

Mobile banking is a top priority.

Banking technology is evolving at a lightning-fast pace, presenting new convenience to the banking world. In the span of just two decades, branch visits shifted to online banking, which evolved into mobile banking.

Now, mobile banking apps are becoming more dynamic, streamlining previously time-consuming processes. They are critical to consumers who expect to have the ability to bank on the go, from the palm of their hand. Credit unions need to keep up to attract and retain members. Doing so will help them connect with younger, tech-savvy adults, as well as older groups that are making the adjustment to mobile device capabilities.

Give members the features they want.

CO-OP Mobile is well equipped to meet the demands and expectations of credit union members with its brand-new mobile app offering enhanced functionality, such as:

  • Customization with your logo present throughout as well as your choice of color schemes, keeping your brand front and center
  • Available on both iPhone and Android mobile devices
  • Account aggregation within the credit union in one mobile banking wallet
  • Account-to-account transfers
  • Access to account balances and recent activity

Plus, CO-OP Mobile offers the following optional features:

  • Text banking services, including account balances and history
  • Remote Deposit Capture (RDC)
  • Real-time person-to-person (P2P) payments, both in and out of network (based on good funds model)
    requirements 

The benefits credit unions need.
In addition to the enhanced functionality CO-OP Mobile delivers to members, there are several advantages for credit unions: 

  • Relevance – Stay top-of-mind in a rapidly evolving consumer environment.
  • Convenience – Offer the mobile services members want.
  • Customization – Tailor a solution to their specific needs.
  • Recognition – Reinforce their identity with a custom-branded interface.
  • Reputation – Strengthen their presence as a provider of valuable, innovative products and services.
  • Engagement – Accommodate a broad base of members using iPhone and Android devices.
  • Agility – Implement a full-featured solution quickly, easily and affordably.
  • Efficiency – Minimize management time with web-based back office applications. 

CO-OP Mobile gives credit unions the power of better banking.

Credit unions no longer have to rely on antiquated systems, reluctant to invest in new technology. With simple, inexpensive implementation and fully customizable features, the new and improved CO-OP Mobile is bringing better banking to credit unions and their members.

For more information on the CO-OP Mobile re-launch, contact mobilevirtualsalesleads@co-opfs.org. Be sure to also register for our upcoming webinar,  Mobile Momentum: From Apple Pay to Real Pay – And Beyond, taking place on February 25 at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT.