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Activating new credit cards is a very common practice that today is pretty simple and easy, but just a few years ago, activating a new card you received in the mail wasn’t all that convenient.

At the time, options were limited. You would have to call your credit union during business hours via the 800 number printed on the sticker on your new card, speak to a live representative, and they would manually activate the card. Eventually, that process was integrated into an interactive voice response (IVR) system, allowing the member to call any time day or night and push a series of buttons to automatically activate the card. Although the member still had to dial the 800 number, the IVR approach did offer greater convenience.

Fast forward to today, where members activate their card right within their mobile or online banking app – a giant step forward for convenience. They simply log into their preferred application, click a button, and voila! – the card is activated. Members still have the option of dialing the 800 number and activating their card through the IVR or even with the help of a live representative. Still, many of today’s consumers appreciate the ability to perform this small task on their terms, within their preferred mode of interaction.

Over time, the improvements in card activation are just one powerful example of how integrations across technologies via APIs (application programming interfaces) have resulted in faster, more efficient processes and a much better member experience.

“It’s interesting to view the progression of one isolated function like card activation and consider how there are so many more functions like that, which together have transformed a member’s experience and the way they engage with their credit union,” says Brian Friedman, Director, Product Management, Integrate, for Co-op Solutions. “At Co-op, we’re allowing those individual functions to be seamlessly embedded into digital application delivery and packaging them into broader use cases, making it easier for credit unions to implement.”

Today, credit unions aren’t just competing with the community bank down the street. They’re also lined up against leading fintechs like PayPal and Chime for their members’ wallet share. The most significant factors are convenience and the ability to offer members the products and services they want.

Co-op’s 2022 “CU Growth Outlook” market research, conducted in partnership with EY and Filene, found that fintechs are harnessing payment products to accelerate growth and take over the marketplace. For example, since last year, PayPal has experienced five times relative growth in primary financial relationship, and Chime showed 18 times growth. Moreover, 78 percent of respondents don’t expect their credit union to offer the digital payment options that are right for them.

How can credit unions reverse this trend? By investing in their digital ecosystems to provide members with the convenient, always-on financial services experience they desire – and demand. To achieve this and meet their members where they are today, credit unions must be innovative and agile – ready to offer the latest digital payment solutions quickly and efficiently. The best place to start is with integrated solutions.

Integrated solutions help credit unions achieve a digital maturity that can rival even the most sophisticated fintechs. Credit unions can implement digital-first solutions and leverage them in the best way for their – and their members’ – unique needs.

Integrations can help credit unions in at least two important ways. First, by helping them achieve operational excellence through increased efficiency. Second, a modern ecosystem of digital solutions that works seamlessly together enables credit unions to provide members with compelling benefits, including digital delivery and anytime/anywhere convenience.

The opportunities for improved efficiency and member convenience through integration are virtually limitless. One example is Digital Card Issuance, which gives members a seamless, touchless and secure way to immediately access their credit or debit card accounts through a mobile app or online banking system while waiting for a new or reissued physical card. By delivering digital credit and debit credentials instantly, Digital Card Issuance allows members to continue using their cards without interruption – while keeping the credit union’s cards top of wallet and top of mind.

The world of financial services is increasingly driven by speed, convenience and a relentless focus on consumers’ evolving needs. Integrations are one important way credit unions can keep pace with the latest innovations while meeting their members where they are today – and tomorrow.

Bill Prichard, APR  |  Director, Public Relations 
T 909.532.9416  |  bill.prichard@coop.org