On-Site Coverage: CUs Need to Look Beyond 'Comfort Zone'
SAN FRANCISCO — Credit unions need to move beyond their comfort zone and adopt innovative new products to stay relevant to members, and they need to cooperate along the way, according to some participants in the Finovate 2011 spring conference in San Francisco.
“We need to keep looking for ways to take creative, new ideas that are emerging in other industries around us and make them credit-union related,” said Kim Vu, vice president of community relations at the $1.5 billion Technology CU in San Jose, Calif. “Especially when it comes to connecting lifestyles and financial services. We need to move beyond our comfort zone, beyond our four walls.”
She pointed to person-to-person payments as an example, a service that she said her credit union is considering how best to deploy. That’s also a topic under consideration at the $2.9 billion Mountain America Credit Union in Salt Lake City, where a decision is brewing whether to deploy a branded service from a small vendor or use the highly recognized PayPal service, said Todd Lindemann, assistant vice president of electronic and card services.
“Listening to our members, they’re telling us that basically they want us to be technologically equivalent to the large banks, and how do you do that? That’s the million-dollar question,” Lindemann said. “Working together as an industry, credit unions have the numbers and ability to take advantage of all these new developments.”
Lindemann and Vu are at the Finovate show – two days of rapid-fire presentations from about 60 developers of leading-edge financial services products and services – as part of a working group led by Denise Gabel, chief innovation officer of the Filene Institute, one of Finovate’s partners in the spring show.
“You see a lot of collaboration and co-development going on here and you have to think about how you can bring these kinds of new innovations to your credit union, not the other way around. It’s not just about how they can bring these things to you,” Gabel said. “It’s flipping around the way we normally think about these things.”