The Official CO-OP Financial Services Blog

CO-OP Financial Services Blog: Insight Vault

Don’t Fall Short on the Basics

General / by Vice President, Marketing

Falling Short at the Basic Level?Last week we introduced the idea that imagining a hierarchy of member needs might help you understand your members – and your role in members’ lives – on a deeper level.

In turn, you might use these insights to visualize, prioritize and communicate more effectively.

But where do we begin?

Maslow’s original Hierarchy of Needs begins with the basics. Basic needs include biological or physiological functions like eating, sleeping and breathing. In financial terms, basic needs might equate to basic transactions: shopping, paying bills, getting paid or squaring up informal debts. In the same way you can’t aspire to be successful or enlightened if you’re struggling to meet basic biological needs like breathing and eating, your members can’t establish fulfilling relationships with your credit union if they aren’t able to perform the basic transactions they need to function day to day.

The challenge: Meet your members’ basic needs with a robust menu of transaction options.

The toolkit:

  • CO-OP ATMs – The cash members need, whenever they need it.
  • CO-OP Debit  – Fast becoming the default for payments.
  • CO-OP Credit – Key to PFI status with members.
  • Checking – Not just for check writing, but as a hub for transactions.
  • CO-OP Bill Pay – Sticky alternative to paper checks.
  • Sprig by CO-OP – As mobile payments go mainstream, mobile options become necessary.

Why basics count: Transactions can equal revenue. They’re also one easy measure of engagement. But on a more fundamental level, without basic transactions your relationship with members has nowhere to go.

As payments become increasingly electronic – and mobile – we’re constantly confronted with decisions about which new payment options to adopt and which old ones to enhance. You can’t green light everything. But remember that keeping up with your members’ basic needs is the foundation for everything you do. Without a strong foundation, your member relationships are stuck at the lowest level – or may never happen at all.

Next up: Security

FIVE Must-Reads on Member Needs

General / by Senior Manager, Market Analysis

FIVE Must-Reads on Member NeedsAs we zoom in on member needs this month, here are five links to recent stories and statistics that shed new light on what your members expect, demand and dream about – at least where financial services are concerned:

Are Security Issues Undermining Member Confidence?
Nothing squelches a productive member experience like worries over security. In this white paper, The Members Group (TMG) explains how credit unions can help members feel empowered by taking a comprehensive approach to security. Read more here (PDF).

Who’s Really Using Mobile Banking and Payments?
The Fed recently released detailed statistics on who’s using mobile banking and payments – along with how people are using these products. Example: 17 percent of mobile phone users and 24 percent of smartphone users have made a mobile payment in the past 12 months. Read more here.

The Branch Is not a Place; It’s a Product
As mobile usage rises and branch visits decline, members need different things from your branch locations. For an interesting take on that transformation, read more here.

Something New in the Branch?
Speaking of branches, some credit unions have installed self-service coin counting machines at their locations as a member convenience. What about this new device, which helps members exchange unwanted gift cards at discounted prices? Should credit unions be considering new ways to address member needs? Read more here.

Omnichannel Personalization: The Ultimate Member Service?
Catering to your members’ every need is complex enough. This article breaks down the process of implementing a cross-channel personalization platform – so that members can enjoy a truly personalized omnichannel experience. While the industry may not be ready to go mainstream with this recommendation yet, now’s the time to get a handle on what it is. Read more here.

Tax Day? No, It’s Pay Day!

General / by Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Tax Day? No, It’s Pay Day!Get the latest on how your credit union can cash in on mobile payments trends in “Go Time for Mobile Wallets?” an e-book from CO-OP.

Find out:

  • How many credit union members are requesting mobile wallets?
  • What are the barriers to entry – for members and credit unions?
  • Is usage on the rise? Will growth continue?
  • What can credit unions offer members right now?
  • What innovations can credit unions look forward to as this area evolves?

Download now.

Can Psych 101 Help You Motivate Your Members?

General / by Vice President, Marketing

If you took Psych 101 – anmaslow-s-hierarchy-of-needsd even if you didn’t – you may be familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Without warming up the overhead projector and sending everyone into a lecture-induced coma, let’s take a brief tour of Maslow’s Hierarchy and ask: Can we use these insights to shape a better member experience?

In writing about human motivation in 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow devised a hierarchy of needs, from basic physiological needs like eating and sleeping to more complex concerns like safety and security, love and belonging, esteem, and finally self-actualization. Maslow’s hierarchy is often depicted as a pyramid, with basic needs at the bottom and self-actualization at the top. In order to move up the hierarchy, you must first master the previous level. Thus, if you’re preoccupied with finding food and shelter, you can’t focus on safety and security or love and belonging. Each level builds upon the previous one.

Where does your credit union fit into this picture?

Your members are motivated by the hierarchy of human needs every day.  They sleep, breathe and spend; earn money and squirrel it away; maintain relationships; establish reputations and seek personal enlightenment. By looking at your members’ needs – and the products and services you offer in order to meet those needs – using a hierarchical approach, can you deepen and improve your member relationships?

CO-OP wanted to find out. This month, we’ll take a level-by-level look at your members’ hierarchy of financial needs. We’ll consider ways your credit union already meets those needs and try to uncover new ways to connect with members at all levels. By understanding what drives your members, we think you can motivate them to make more transactions, feel more connected and attain new levels of satisfaction.

Join us Thursday, May 1 at 2:00 PM Eastern for “The Hierarchy of Member Needs,” a live webinar featuring Dr. Brandi Stankovic of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates and Rachna Ahlawat, founder of OnDot Systems, in a lively discussion on inspiring an enhanced member experience through a deeper understanding of member needs.

Better Service, Better for You?

General / by Vice President, Marketing

If enhancing member experience is a big overarching goal at your credit union, chances are good that you’ll get there with smaller, important changes. Uncovering opportunities to provide better, streamlined service with minimal cost and disruption is key.

ELFCU in Indianapolis found one such opportunity. By adding CO-OP Card Member Dispute Resolution via the CO-OP Member Center, ELFCU made its dispute resolution process faster, more efficient and more cost effective. Members now have access to this service 24/7, while actually saving ELFCU time and resources. (See the case study for complete details).

With CO-OP CMDR, members who call the credit union with card disputes are forwarded immediately to CO-OP Member Center to begin the dispute process. The CO-OP Member Center contact gathers information and works internally with the CO-OP Dispute Resolution Center to resolve the issue. Credit unions can track and review CO-OP’s actions along the way, and typically get involved only where needed – to issue provisional credits, provide a Regulation E letter, or reissue members’ cards, for example.

While the improved efficiency is clearly a benefit for the credit union, expanded hours and a streamlined process improve the member experience as well. Being able to report a dispute after hours is not only a benefit to members; it’s a baseline expectation. Offering round-the-clock access may even reduce the risk of losses due to errors or timing constraints.

Solutions like CO-OP CMDR may be part of a larger trend for credit unions. As member expectations soar – along with hopes for growing membership and expanding member relationships – combining improved service with improved efficiency is an important standard, inside the credit union and with outsourcing. The more efficient and effective each step can be, the farther you can go toward that big overarching goal.

Questions about CO-OP Card Member Dispute Resolutions? See FAQs.



THINK 14: ‘It Starts With You’ and Great Speakers

General / by Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

THINK 14: ‘It Starts With You’ and Great SpeakersCO-OP Financial Services has announced the THINK 14 Conference’s first featured speakers, who will focus on helping attendees take a realistic look at themselves and their credit unions under the theme “It Starts With You.”

THINK 14 speakers scheduled to-date includes:

  • Kate Feather leads the customer experience transformation group at PeopleMetrics, acting as strategic consultant on key accounts such as Christie’s Auction House and Coca-Cola.
  • Debbie Millman is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has authored six books, including “Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits.”
  • Mark Thompson is the CEO and cofounder of Virgin Unite Mentors, Richard Branson’s network for executive coaching and entrepreneurial innovation.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk is an investor and advisor to startups, and now an expert on the Fortune 500 world, through his work as CEO of Vaynermedia, a social media marketing agency.
  • Tess Vigeland (THINK 14 Conference Master of Ceremonies) is CEO of Tess Vigeland Productions. Vigeland spent 11 years as an anchor for NPR’s “Marketplace” program.
  • Randi Zuckerberg is the former Director of Market Development and Spokeswoman for Facebook, and currently CEO of Zuckerberg Media.

THINK 14 speakers will tackle issues that everyone who works at a credit union can take a part in solving. These issues include “Living the Promise,” “Consumer Experience”, “Examining the Business Model” and “Leadership, Attitude and Talent.”

Each general session will include a speaker – a “Thinker” – on one specific credit union issue. These presentations will be followed by a case study from some of today’s most admired companies as well as a roundtable “THINK It Out” discussion. The goal for each general session will be to provide the audience with actionable steps to adapt to today’s new consumer and competitive landscape.

The THINK 14 Conference is taking place May 19-22, 2014, at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, La. Registration for the event is $799 for credit union employees, who may register immediately at

History of Payments: Click!

General / by Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

History of Payments: Click!Insight Vault has engaged in a four-part series on the “History of Payments,” having looked at the age of bartering, cash and credit. The eras of cash and credit were not so long ago, a testimony to the constant evolution of payments systems, driven throughout by a need for greater safety and convenience. Now, let’s look at the new and still young era of “Click!” (for who knows how soon it too will pass into history).

Over the last two decades, networks and computing technology has improved at exponential rates. E-commerce was born during this time and its rise in the world of payment transactions is unparalleled. After the Social Security Administration offered automatic electronic deposit of money into bank accounts in 1975, people became more comfortable with the idea of money being added to their accounts without ever holding the cash. Slowly but surely people started paying bills, transferring money, and sending money electronically. The growing worldwide acceptance of the Internet made electronic currency more important than ever before. Companies such as Amazon and Ebay turned retail markets into virtual markets and consumers steadily embraced the incredible convenience of e-commerce.

Creating new and improved ways to pay for goods and services is central to how we interact with each other. Like many innovations, change in the way consumers conduct their financial lives is motivated by the desire to have something better, more efficient and safer. As we enter the next era of financial transactions, the only thing we can be certain of is that the way we pay will continue to change because evolution is inevitable.

CO-OP Financial Services is dedicated to making sure your credit union has “Joined the Evolution” and is offering your members the safest and most convenient means of payment available today. You can find our solutions a click away here.

Watch Out: Wearable Payments Are Here

General / by Vice President, Marketing

Watch Out: Wearable Payments Are HereJust a few weeks ago Google unveiled its Android Wear project – releasing a new operating system that will power wearable technology (read: smartwatches) designed to make smartphones as clunky and old school as … well, everything smartphones ultimately replaced. Though no actual products were revealed yet, Google is partnering with LG, Motorola, Samsung, Asus, HTC, Qualcomm and even actual watch company Fossil. Android Wear-enabled watches could be available as early as this summer.

If they are, look for applications that will bring mobile payments into a whole new light. And watch for alternative designs that don’t involve watches at all. Mercator Advisory Group senior analyst Ben Jackson recently tested out Sesame Rings, payment-enabled rings to be used on Boston’s bus and subway system, developed by MIT students and funded on Kickstarter. The rings were created on a 3-D printer with payment chips embedded in them. Jackson had a few minor quibbles with design and functionality, but all told the technology worked – even when Jackson was wearing a winter glove.

“With increased contactless acceptance and the right product design, in some contexts wearable payments may replace wallets – both their physical and mobile formats,” says Jackson, who authored the Mercator report, “The Future Is Not in the Cards: Will ‘Wearable Payments’ Replace Wallets?”

Are financial services buying in? According to Bank Technology News, some signs point to yes: “Some banks, including U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and ING Direct Canada are already looking into developing apps for (Android Wear). These apps would allow bank customers to check their balances, receive fraud alerts and perform other banking tasks simply by tapping the face of their watches.”

Though it’s hard to say when wearable payments and banking technology will reach critical mass, these developments are a sure sign that mobile payments and technology – in the form of mobile wallets, mobile banking and mobile alerts and controls – are more essential than ever. This space is on the move.

Top 5 Must-Reads for Credit Unions

General / by Senior Manager, Market Analysis

Top 5 Must-Reads for Credit UnionsAs part of our ongoing intelligence gathering, CO-OP is constantly scouring the news for the stories, statistics and trends that are shaping our industry. Here are our top five recent must-reads for evolving credit unions:

Fed Swats Down Ruling on Durbin Amendment

This opinion piece from Mercator dives into the implications of the recent decision affecting Durbin. One comment that stands out in particular: “We strongly believe [issuers, payment networks and processors] will now begin an accelerated EMV implementation process.

Quarterly Snapshot of Payments Landscape

Merchant Warehouse offers up a slew of compelling statistics and infographics on the evolving world of payments.

Lessons Learned: Consumers Change Behavior After Breaches

Fox Business files this report on changing consumer behavior in the wake of the Target breach. We’d encourage all credit unions to monitor their own transaction volumes for similar trends.

Going Futuristic as Branch Traffic Dwindles

SNL Financial details how Provident Financial Services is tackling branch transformation.

Why Is Our Banking System So Far Behind?

Marketplace serves up the consumer perspective on faster, more flexible electronic payments – and asks why the U.S. appears to be lagging. Meanwhile CO-OP is already solving for this with Sprig by CO-OP.

History of Payments: Charge It!

General / by Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Charge it!Last week, we looked at two great movements in the history of payments: “Let’s Trade” and “Cash Is King.” Cash had a lengthy reign, indeed, lasting from about 630 B.C. to the mid-20th century. But credit and online payments took the lead in rapid succession before the century was done. Let’s look at credit today, and we’ll conclude our series with “Click” next week.

After World War II, consumers embraced the automobile and took to the roads. The freedom of travel for business and pleasure drove a desire for a payment tool that was safer and more convenient than carrying large quantities of cash. Oil companies began issuing “charge cards” which travelers could use to pay for fuel, repairs and lodging. The convenience and value of the cash-free card became apparent to many other merchants as well. Soon large retail chains and hotels were offering their own charge cards. In 1950 the first universal payment card, the Diners Club Card, was introduced. American Express, Bank of America and MasterCard soon followed with their own charge cards.

Credit cards had a life-style altering impact on consumer payments. Purchases of need or simply of want could be made without the requirement of ready cash. Credit cards were also safer for the consumer since the card company largely took on the responsibility for any fraudulent charges. The well-known downside of credit cards was the increase in consumer debt.

For retailers credit cards also had a fundamental impact. Rules were developed to standardize credit card processing, which reduced fraud and misuse of cards. As time went on the speed (“swiping” we call it today) of the credit card transaction improved as well.

The 1980s and 1990s saw explosive growth in the use of credit cards. Soon billions of credit card transactions were occurring annually. Using much of the same payment infrastructure, debit cards began to take hold during this period as well. By 1998, debit transactions outnumbered checks for the first time.

And yet, even this wasn’t as convenient as consumers would soon be demanding.

Remember, providing more convenient and safer ways for credit union members to pay for things is what CO-OP Financial Services is all about. See our array of solutions here.