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CO-OP Financial Services Blog: Insight Vault

A Top 10 of Credit Union Benefits from Millennials

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

A Top 10 of Credit Union Benefits from Millennials A key feature of the “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams” campaign website is the “People Like Us” section. Here, Millennials tell their peers about the benefits of credit union membership based on their own experience. We’ve published eight stories to-date, with more on the way. Here’s a “Top 10” of credit union benefits, from the vantage-point of the Millennials we have interviewed:

1. A great place to start building credit. Several of the young people we spoke to felt particular gratitude to their credit union for helping them establish a good credit history. This includes more than just receiving a piece of plastic – they also received good advice on the responsibility that comes with credit.

2. A resource for fulfilling dreams. Whether it’s buying a car or home, traveling, or building a business, it’s a fact – credit unions help Millennials fulfill their dreams.

3. A resource for financial advice and an eagerness to help. Repeatedly, we heard that credit unions are a great source for financial advice. And, the help is proactive. As one person said, the staff “Knows things I need, even before I do.”

4. A trusted partner. Another vey common theme: Millennials told us they felt that their credit union trusted them. They saw their financial institution as their partner.

5. Easy access to ATMs and branches. Finding surcharge-free ATMs and branches is no problem. CO-OP is making it even easier for Millennials (and everyone else) with a revamped locator that can now be found at the campaign website at:

6. Account access via on-line and mobile. We were told by at least one member that she had yet to step inside her credit union’s branch. This was enabled in part, of course, by on-line and mobile account access technology that can compete with anyone.

7. Member service is second to none. Every testimonial from the Millennials we spoke to cite the exceptional member service of credit unions. Several have close relationships with the branch manager at their local institution.

8. Compares favorably with banks. The trust, ability to anticipate needs and personal service that they experienced at credit unions was just not the same at the banks they dealt with.

9. Commitment to philanthropy. Doing business with an institution that gives back to its community is important to Arianne Schumacher of California. Her credit union’s “commitment to improving and supporting San Diego County is something I admire,” she told us.

10. Great rates! Kyle Coleman of Georgia could have been speaking of any credit union when she said “Their rates can’t be beat.”

Keep checking back with “People Like Us” for more stories – and keep up the great work!

Two Efficiency Boosts for Your ATMs

General / by Vice President, Marketing

Two Efficiency Boosts for Your ATMsAre ATMs, in fact, automatically efficient? Not necessarily. Here are two areas you might not be considering when considering the efficiency quotient of your ATM fleet:

1. Your ATMs Could Do More

ATMs have the advantage of being familiar, well-loved technology. Give your members ATM technology and they’ll use it.

This begs the question, what if your ATMs could do more? Add CO-OP NextGen ATM to the mix, for example, and you can offer self-service shared branching transactions to your members and members of other credit unions.

As new self-service technology becomes available, thinking of your ATM fleet as an old stalwart means missed opportunity. For decades now, ATMs have offered an efficient, convenient service alternative to credit unions and their members. Is more of a good thing really too much?

2. More Management Might Require Less Work

Do you have a team of technical wizards devoted entirely to maintaining your ATM fleet at optimum capacity? If so – and it’s not breaking your budget – then you are in fine shape. Carry on.

At many credit unions, this isn’t the case. Are you managing a complex ATM fleet, with multiple vintages, models, systems and manufacturers? Are your ATMs flung far and wide? Is your ATM manager a pinch hitter who doubles as a branch manager or VP of marketing? Does an ATM glitch create an operational crisis?

Enlisting outside help to manage your ATM fleet might be more than a relief: It’s probably a smart operational move. ATM management isn’t simple – especially if it’s not your native area of expertise. And haphazard management easily results in a shoddy member experience.

Using automated remote management, such as CO-OP ATM Visual Control, paves the way for a better member experience – all while making your ATM fleet more efficient. And if it makes your life easier in the process, no one has to know.

Learn more about CO-OP ATM Visual Control in a new white paper, “Moving to True ATM Remote Management,” available for download here (PDF).

Join us for a joint CO-OP/Diebold webinar on optimizing the self-service experience using CO-OP NextGen ATM, September 9 at 2 p.m. Eastern. For more information and to register, click here.

Credit Unions Can Grow By Giving Members Greater Freedom

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Credit Unions Can Grow By Giving Members Greater FreedomIt’s not the imaginative leap, but the operational challenge that makes efficiency in the age of “always on” access so puzzling. It is necessary – though not always easy – to provide the seamless, omnichannel experience members expect. But here’s the rub: That technology can’t take the place of human interaction. To provide excellent member service today, you must be available on every front.

The need for human availability isn’t just a Baby Boomer thing, either. According to a June 2013 study by Filene Research Institute, Gen Y consumers are more likely to contact a call center, visit a branch and/or drive up to an ATM than any other segment. All this at a time when branch operations are undergoing massive transformation in order to stay competitive.

How do credit unions rise to this operational challenge? And – even more pointedly – how do they excel, given the superhuman requirements that these demands place on operations?

“We help credit unions grow their business by giving members the freedom to manage their financial lives on their own terms,” says Carol Cline-Parton, Vice President, CO-OP Member Center. Credit unions that work with CO-OP Member Center enjoy the flexibility of 24/7 availability without the requirement of 24/7 in-house staffing. Members accustomed to managing their finances anytime using smartphones and tablets especially like having an on-call resource to help resolve questions and issues, such as disputed card charges or balance inquiries.

Working with CO-OP Member Center means efficiency from another standpoint as well. Offering round-the-clock help with loan servicing, for example, helps credit unions deliver a better lending experience and more loans. Having the ability to forward calls to CO-OP Member Center during staff downtime ensures that members don’t experience an interruption in service – and this holds true for routine breaks and meetings as well as major disruptions such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Partnering with CO-OP Member Center also enables credit unions to deliver the consistent, consistently member-centric experience so critical to the credit union brand.

CO-OP Member Center also offers credit unions a degree of operational flexibility that’s hard to match. “We have credit unions that have been with us 16 years and are still implementing new services today,” says Cline-Parton. “Their needs ebb and flow with the needs of their members.” Given the rapidly-changing nature of today’s consumer expectations, flexibility might be the most important advantage of all.

Learn more about CO-OP Member Center in “CO-OP Member Center Delivers On-Demand, Always-On Member Service,” a free white paper available for download here.

More Top 5 Must Reads for Credit Unions

General / by Senior Manager, Market Analysis

More Top 5 Must Reads for Credit UnionsCompetition – in business, technology and member service – has never been more fierce, as this batch of five essential reads for credit unions demonstrate.

The Digital Battle You Must Win

The average consumer’s relationship with his/her financial institution is dominated by payments, yet few FIs are fighting to win the battle for digital payments.

Why Tech Companies May Gun for Banks

We frequently hear that nontraditional competitors could disrupt financial institutions. Finally, Bank Systems & Technology answers the question: Why?

Consumer’s-Eye View on CU Growth

As CUNA announced that credit union membership has topped 100 million, Public Radio’s Marketplace filed this report on what’s motivating the membership spike.

What if an Apple Wallet Had Visa Tokenization?

Speculation, speculation: Some analysts are wondering if Visa’s new token service might help Apple make secure, mobile, contactless payments a reality for iPhone 6.

Is Anyone Using Your App?

Fast Company offers a refresher course on creating apps people will actually use. First item of business: Solve a problem people actually have. Smart reading.

What if Your Members Don’t Want a Wallet?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

What if Your Members Don’t Want a Wallet?Trying to provide your members with a full-blown mobile wallet is a nerve-wracking proposition. Which technology will merchants embrace? Will the iPhone 6 include NFC? When will members be able to leave their actual wallets at home?

Instead of rushing down this uncertain path, maybe it’s time to ask a different question: Do your members want a mobile wallet in the first place?

This question may seem counter-intuitive. How can it be that our mobile-obsessed members won’t prefer a mobile wallet? How is it possible that they aren’t waiting right now – ready to defect to the first financial institution that offers them the mobile wallet of their dreams?

Short answer: The real mobile wallet of your members’ dreams is still years away from reality. Meanwhile, members do want several things from you, their financial institution of choice.

Get in now. You can participate in many existing mobile wallets simply by incentivizing your members to use your cards to make wallet transactions. CO-OP’s own Ryan Zilker recently wrote a great opinion piece on this topic for Credit Union Times.

Be mobile. Mobile engagement is a huge benefit for members. Think mobile check deposits, mobile banking and bill pay, mobile P2P payments and more. Users of Sprig by CO-OP enjoy these services – and look forward to new benefits coming soon.

Surprise, innovate. Speaking of new benefits, CO-OP will soon introduce CardNav by CO-OP card controls and alerts, which help members get the most from their accounts using their smartphones as remote controls.

Let’s get real. Also on the way: real-time online and mobile payments. That is, cardless, person-to-person payments that move in near real-time will soon be available for users of Sprig by CO-OP, thanks to the PayNet payment network from FIS (

What do these products and features offer that the dream wallet can’t? Members can use them now (or nearly now). As to speed: When the Fed asked survey respondents if they would prefer real-time payments, 69 percent of consumers and 75 percent of businesses said yes.

So, what if your members don’t actually want a wallet – at least not now? Why not focus on giving them the tools they want, the tools they can actually use now? Because while we’re waiting for the dream wallet to materialize, we’re all looking for mobile payment and money management tools we can use right away, in real time.

Branches: How Do You Work Them?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Branches: How Do You Work Them?When we view branch transformation – especially from an operational perspective – too often we get bogged down with concerns about efficiency, new technology and retraining needs as branches move from old school to newly formed. This is a missed opportunity.

Think instead about transformation. If you are undergoing branch transformation, above all else, you have the opportunity to become more precisely what your members want and need. If you think about it, members don’t walk around wishing for fewer branches. They aren’t hoping you’ll migrate to more efficient self-serve technology, or fire up your staff to improve cross-selling.

Members just want you to meet their needs. To make your branch transformation really work, look deeply into member needs and find new – and, sure, efficient – ways to improve service and enhance member satisfaction. How?

Go fast. Here, self-service technology like CO-OP NextGen ATM can really shine. By increasing the potential for self-service, you decrease the potential for long waiting times. But don’t limit your need for speed to technology. If your branches are going to turn up the volume on loan growth, look for ways to speed those processes as well. For example, you can move loans into the pipeline faster if you offer members an immediate appointment with a lending expert, via video if necessary.

Leverage flexibility. Repeat after us: All branches need not be created equal. Whether your branch transformation journey begins with the radical redesign of a single established location or the ground-up creation of a newly-imagined capsule branch, begin each process with this question: What do the members who will come to this branch want and need?

Focus on providing exactly that – no more, no less. This may mean multiple cash recyclers and a bank of member service representatives to serve small-business members, or a single state-of-the-art ATM to provide a range of shared branching services 24/7 using very little real estate. The real power of branch transformation lies in its remarkable flexibility. Use it.

Redefine service. You get less face time to build relationships today. So be it. If one of your goals is to improve your advisory and sales potential, make sure your transformed branches support that effort – not only in their design, but also in terms of training, product development, process design and member feedback.

We know for sure that members’ relationships with their financial institutions are changing. They’re more mobile and virtual. They’re less loyalty-driven, particularly among Millennials. But we also know that there is still a role for actual locations –provided we ensure their efficiency and profitability.

One of the greatest drivers of branch efficiency is being effective. When members truly find what they need and bring you their trust, your branches are – in the best sense of the word — working.

To visit CO-OP’s Branch Transformation Resource Center, click here.

Is Debit Your Nerve Center?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Is Debit Your Nerve Center?It’s easy to think of debit as basic. Everyone has it. Everyone uses it. Even as debit transaction growth has slowed a bit, growth is continuous. Yet, members aren’t swooning over debit. And chances are good, neither are you.

But it’s possible to think of debit in another way: as the nerve center of member activity and the central basis for a network of experience-enhancing products and services. Case in point: ELFCU in Indianapolis. ELFCU has over $1 billion in assets and no retail branches. For this credit union, maintaining member access across many channels isn’t a novelty: It’s a necessity.

“Checking accounts are the stickiest product we have, and engagement comes through debit and ATM transactions,” says Tim Greene, vice president of eCommerce at ELFCU. “At its core, access through debit is access to people’s money.”

Access may begin with debit, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Though ELFCU is an example of virtual relationship building, it faces many of the same challenges that all credit unions do. As transactions – and interactions – become increasingly remote, automated and electronic, meeting members’ needs and fulfilling their expectations requires a range of thoughtful products and services.

To that end, ELFCU wanted debit transactions to run flawlessly. But beyond that, they wanted a debit processor that could offer more – greater efficiencies, expanded member service options, everywhere access, state-of-the-art fraud protection, online and mobile enhancements and expert support. With signature and PIN debit processing at the center, ELFCU’s menu of CO-OP services is wide-ranging enough to meet evolving member needs. Services include:

  • CO-OP Network ATMs
  • CO-OP Shared Branching
  • ATM Managed Services
  • CO-OP Member Center
  • My Deposit Mobile
  • Terminal Driving
  • Full-Service Credit Processing

These services provide ELFCU members with many points of access, including ATM and shared branch locations and 24/7 telephone support. They also represent an unseen advantage:

By using multiple business lines, ELFCU enjoys relationship pricing and operational efficiencies – which translate into better rates and lower fees for members. ELFCU is also one of CO-OP’s credit union shareholders, which makes them eligible for an annual patronage opportunity.

If debit isn’t the newest or flashiest component in your member experience, remember that it may be one of the hardest working. You can view it as basic, or as the basis for a world of access.

Can You Build a Killer Card?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Can You Build a Killer Card?Credit is back. The Fed’s most recent figures show consumer credit increasing by $19.6 billion in May – including $1.8 billion in revolving credit. Credit card growth spells opportunity for credit unions. But if you don’t currently issue credit cards – or your credit card offerings could use a boost – how feasible is it to build a killer credit card program yourself?

With the right help, you can.

Community Financial Credit Union in Broomfield, Colo., knew credit cards were a key need for members – and a valuable relationship builder for the credit union. Not only is every transaction a touchpoint, but servicing credit card accounts also provides Community Financial CU with the opportunity to connect, promote, serve and engage.

Using CO-OP in-house credit processing, Community Financial CU created card programs that fit their members’ needs: basic, low-interest cards for members who carry a balance, and generous rewards for members with multiple accounts and high aggregate balances. By choosing in-house processing the credit union has built a card program that is both efficient and personalized.

Of course, there’s more to a great card program than processing:

Fraud Prevention and Detection: Card security is a top concern. State of the art fraud prevention and detection are a marketing – and operational – essential.

Member Support: Members expect you to be on call whenever they need help. For many credit unions, outsourcing is the answer. CO-OP Member Center can provide telephone support for everything from account inquiries to fraud reporting and dispute resolution.

Analytics and more: Gathering and understanding data can help you pinpoint fraud, uncover member preferences, design targeted marketing campaigns, leverage your rewards program and more. Critical: Getting the help you need to analyze and organize data into meaningful information makes the difference.

Building a killer card program is part and parcel of creating a great member experience. When considering a new or retooled card campaign, also look at how your surrounding products and services can enhance usage – and usability. Do you offer the P2P capability that will help your credit cards power mobile payments? Are you considering card controls and alerts, which can make card accounts more secure and customizable? Credit cards may be a fundamental product, but their appeal doesn’t have to be strictly basic.

Of course, for full-service credit card transaction processing, CO-OP has the answer as well through its partnership with The Members Groups (TMG) of Des Moines, Iowa.

4 More Questions You Aren’t Asking About EMV

General / by Manager – Core Products

4 Questions You Aren’t Asking About EMVWe can finally say it’s a good time to start contemplating a shift to EMV for your debit cards. We can also say that thinking about a shift to EMV raises many questions for credit unions – including several you may not think of asking.

Last week we answered four questions you may not be considering when considering EMV. This week we tackle four more:

1. What operational challenges are we likely to be overlooking?

Because network and terminal issues will almost certainly arise, credit unions need to have a process in place for tracking transactions and how they route, then addressing and solving problems. Remember, this process is going to be critical for a good two or three years.

Also bear in mind that as the U.S. transitions to EMV, fraudsters will intensify their efforts on old technology. So, while you’re keeping an eye on new EMV-enabled transactions, expect to redouble fraud protection efforts on your non-EMV accounts and transactions, such as card-not-present or mag stripe transactions.

2. What do members really need to know about EMV?

Don’t expect members to know much. They’ve probably heard or read about EMV and look forward to enhanced security, but know little to nothing about how EMV works or what its security limitations are. On the other hand, members don’t need to know the intricacies – just the nuts and bolts.

As always, communication is in the details. Example: If you equip your ATMs with dip readers to accommodate EMV, you need to prepare ATM users for a different experience – one they’ll be having outside the presence of your staff (it’s an ATM, after all). If they aren’t aware that a new card reader will actually “hold on” to their cards, they may try to wrestle the cards out of the machine.

3. How important is it for us to have EMV cards in time for the liability shifts being enacted by MasterCard and Visa?

Of course you want to be mindful of liability, but the overall impact to your bottom line in the near term is probably small. Big box merchants will be ready for EMV in time for the liability shift, so regardless of whether your cards are mag stripe or EMV, you will retain the liability on those transactions. When you factor out those transactions, along with your card not present transactions, the pool of potential transactions where you might be able to shift liability is likely smaller than you think. It’s more important to focus on an EMV rollout strategy that makes sense for your credit union on the whole.

4. Can we just ignore EMV?

Theoretically, maybe; practically, no. Though there’s no reason to bolt or panic now, over time liability shifts will ultimately provide an ample motivation to switch. Also, as EMV becomes widespread, old technology will become the vulnerable target of fraud. You wouldn’t want that to happen to you.

Need to know more about debit and EMV? Join CO-OP for a live Q&A webinar, “EMV: Moving Forward on Debit,” with EMV expert Michelle Thornton: Thursday, July 31 at 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific. Register now.

Top 5 Must-Reads for Credit Unions

General / by Senior Manager, Market Analysis

Top 5 Must-Reads for Credit UnionsThis month, Insight Vault has been looking at various ways that credit unions can power up on EMV, mobile wallets, real-time payments, new payment technology and member experience.  Here’s some additional food for thought from around the industry press:

Will Tokenization Eclipse EMV?

As credit unions prepare to take on EMV adoption, some wonder whether tokenization might replace EMV as the new security standard. This article is a good primer on tokenization, and how it intersects with EMV.

Is Real-Time Banking Fast Enough?

Just in time for CO-OP’s discussions about real-time payments this month, here’s an interesting take. Money can only move so fast, so this author argues that predicting your members’ future needs is the next logical step.

Visa Dumps the Digital Wallet Model

If the headline doesn’t say it all, consider this: “Visa is shifting away from pushing a consumer digital wallet product that promises to replace a physical wallet, and instead saying it is offering an easier way to spend money online.”

Wearable Payments Take the Stage in TMG Lab

Developments in the payments space may be complicated, but payment technology should be simple. So say the folks working on wearable payments innovations at The Members’ Group’s lab. Take a peek inside.

Smartphone Users Still Wedded to the Branch

Why invest in branch transformation? In a new Bank of America survey, almost half of U.S. smartphone users don’t think they’d last a day without their devices. Yet, 84 percent of respondents have visited a branch within the past six months.