Reimagine Credit Unions of the Future

A recent Filene report (The Credit Union of the Twenty-First Century)1 embraced the task of imagining the credit union of 2034, at the 100th anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act.

The report’s authors acknowledged that while many of the socioeconomic factors that originally drove the “why” of credit unions remain the same, innovations in technology mean the “how” has changed greatly.

6 Emerging Technology Trends & Challenges

Credit unions must address these six emerging technology trends and challenges:

As more payment transactions happen electronically, rather than with cash, members need a resource through which they can send and receive payments — but that resource doesn’t need to be a credit union or any financial institution at all.
Lessons from technology adoption
Credit unions must do a better job separating the hype from the must-haves, rolling out new technology, learning from rollouts and applying lessons learned — and do it while staying in compliance. A big ask!
Voice and video
These function as a bridge between in-person branch interactions and completely mobile experiences and combine the reliability/reassurance of credit union banking with the convenience of virtual.
Credit unions must do a better job leveraging their “mountains of valuable member data.”
Auto ownership
This will continue to evolve and could largely mean the disappearance of credit unions’ “bread and butter” auto lending.
The credit union experience will be rooted in mobile; branches will continue to decrease in importance.

4 Models of Banking

Credit unions must prepare for this near future by considering these four models of banking, which rely on some level of digital transformation:

  • Relationship banking. Differentiated by credit unions’ awareness and responsiveness to community and member needs. Creates something “…deeper than a deposit.”
  • Ambient banking. Banking is seen only as a facilitator of a member’s other activities. Relies on a mix of human hand-offs and chatbots driven by artificial intelligence.
  • Automated banking. Fueled by member data, credit union processes are largely automated, freeing up staff to focus on specific member needs and relationships.
  • Concierge banking. A combination of data-driven recommendations and human financial advisors will help overwhelmed members get the advice and help they need.

1Filene Research Institute. “The Credit Union of the Twenty-First Century,” 2019.
CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Corporate headquarters: 5910 Mineral Point Road, Madison WI 53705.