Maintaining Relevancy in Payment/Card Environments

Dan Umscheid, Vice President – Support Services, Credit Union of America
Dan Umscheid, Vice President – Support Services, Credit Union of America

Dan Umscheid, Vice President – Support Services, Credit Union of America

As is the case with most anything touched by technology today, the payment and card space is in a state of constant, accelerated change. At Credit Union of America (CUA) the unyielding goal is to provide the highest possible level of service and the best possible experience to our membership. The combination of the rapid change in payments and cards and our service-centric culture presents several unique challenges. Among these challenges are keeping pace with industry and technology trends, maintaining a safe and compliant environment that both dissuades and prevents fraud, and continued growth through adoption of new service and attraction of new members while maintaining a high level of personalized service.

We’ve all experienced the influence of Amazon and Apple; we’ve seen first-hand the evolution of consumer expectations. We are now doing business in a world where instant gratification is a requirement. These consumer expectations have found their way from consumer goods into the financial arena, with the advent of products such as five-minute mortgage approvals and two-minute checking accounts. Countless financial start-ups achieved great success by focusing on simplifying, expediting, or improving upon offerings from the traditional financial giants. The proverbial needle has been moved; today’s credit union member is not tolerant of or familiar with things such as delayed funds availability. Instead, the expectation is that funds will arrive at their intended destination instantaneously whether it’s a check deposit, an ACH transfer, or a “deposit” from PayPal or Venmo. Credit Union of America has adapted to this new environment, providing our members with access to various payment methods. To do so, CUA has adopted technologies like remote check deposit, person-to-person and account-to-account transactions, Apple and Google Pay, etc. Like many other financial institutions, CUA relies on partnerships with third party vendors to provide these technologies to our members. The careful selection of these vendors is crucial to our ability to provide services that keep pace with industry trends.

  Consumer expectations have found their way from consumer goods into the financial arena, with the advent of products such as five-minute mortgage approvals and two-minute checking accounts 

As the envelope continues to expand in terms of how quickly and effortlessly payments can be made, and from myriad devices over various channels, the potential for fraudulent activity has expanded with it. The focus on speed and convenience has resulted in an environment wrought with trouble and the potential for fraud is higher today than ever before. Detection and prevention of fraud has become more difficult and more important as funds have continued to move faster. The challenge isn’t only in keeping up with the various payment methods, but also in maintaining a high-level member experience even though fraud prevention sometimes requires member interaction. Targeted phishing attempts, malware, skimming, spoofing, and account take-over are some of the threat vectors we see engaging our members on a regular basis. We’ve even seen solicitations from a spoofed phone number appearing to belong to CUA. Despite the best efforts of our electronic services department to remain behind the scenes to catch and deter fraudsters, it is sometimes necessary to speak directly to a member regarding a payment or card transaction. Ideally, this inconvenience would be avoidable, but the fraudsters are sometimes so savvy that member interaction is required to verify the legitimacy of the transaction. Our fraud prevention efforts have expanded vastly as we have adapted from a traditional brick and mortar credit union to one that provides a full suite of online and mobile capabilities to our members. Recently, we have employed data analytics and artificial intelligence to help identify and prevent potential fraud.

Credit Union of America believes that the payment and card space is an area where we can enhance our relationship with existing members as well as attract and retain new members. We have multiple resources that focus on industry innovations and work diligently to remain near the forefront of innovation. To remain relevant, we offer the same payment avenues as the largest financial institutions; Examples of these payment methods include Apple Pay/Google Pay, debit and credit card offerings, integration into digital wallets, person-to-person and account to account transfers, etc. The concept of “top of wallet” is something we discuss frequently, meaning that CUA strives to be the “first pick” or card/payment method of choice for our members. In order to achieve “top of wallet” status, we are active and available in as many payment methods and channels as possible. Other ways Credit Union of America strives to achieve “top of wallet” status include offering targeted rewards, which are driven by data analytics and by allowing our members to customize notifications and alerts to define how and when we communicate with them. It’s also worth mentioning that the CUA focus on member service leads to a personal touch that is quite different from what our members can experience elsewhere. Even in today’s technology-driven environment, it’s sometimes our humanity that differentiates Credit Union of America from the competition. To that end, as we continue to deploy and refine technologies to make our members lives easier, we will always meet members on the avenue of their choosing, including face-to-face at a branch or on the telephone with an actual person in our service center.

Today, CUA members have become accustomed to sending and receiving money with a click, a tap, or an email. We can’t be sure what tomorrow brings, but we can be sure that it will bring new and exciting methods for members to move money faster and easier. Tremendous investment in mobile payments and decentralized banking technologies continues to fuel a major shift in the industry. Some reports estimate that the investment over the past five years has exceeded $100 billion. Despite warranted fears around the security and privacy implications of this new world, next-generation payment methods are growing and evolving rapidly. Credit Union of America will continue to rise to the challenge of protecting our members while keeping pace with the change in the environment.

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