Demo of an Apple Card payment. Photo: Apple, Inc.

Long gone are the days when credit unions could consider the community institution down the street, or even the biggest national banks, as their only competition. Large technology companies and retailers continue to dip their toes into the financial industry waters, causing concern for traditional institutions. What these entities lack in proven financial services experience, they’re trying to make up for with seamlessness and convenience. While these competitors haven’t won yet, if credit unions aren’t careful, they just might.

T-Mobile, Walmart and Amazon all have introduced new banking and payment products over the last couple of years that tout a superior user experience as the selling point. Arguably the most threatening, last month Apple introduced a new credit card that has low fees, easy-to-spend rewards, boosted security and a frictionless account opening experience. Nothing Apple is offering is particularly new or noteworthy individually, but by piecing together the best features and functionality of credit unions’ current digital banking and payment apps, Apple might be delivering a better overall consumer experience. This should serve as a bright red flag to credit unions that have been slow or reluctant to embrace digital transformation.

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