CU 2.0 Podcast 23: Sitting Down with Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa

It’s the Credit Union podcast! CU 2.0 is excited to bring you the twenty-third in a series of podcasts from Robert McGarvey. Welcome to the CU 2.0 Podcast, regular interviews with credit union leaders, thinkers, movers, shakers and more.

If Kasasa were a bank branch network, it would be the nation’s fourth largest and it says that sometime this year it will overtake Bank of America and be the 3rd biggest.

Surprised? You bet. Probably you know that Kasasa has been building up its customer base for digital banking products – checking in particular – but now it is big enough where it’s tooting its horn.

This”branch network” isn’t a consumer-facing product – CO-OP Shared Branching it is not – but what’s interesting is that lots of FIs, some 907 community banks, and credit unions, now have joined together to offer Kasasa products, particularly the free, rewards-based checking.

And that’s also where Kasasa has a real plus – according to company CEO Gabe Krajicek, Kasasa consumers have free access to essentially every ATM in the US. When fees are imposed, the consumer is reimbursed.

And that’s an enormous perk for credit union members when many institutions have ATM fleets that can be counted on one hand.

Think about the enormity of that plus for credit union members in Kasasa institutions.

Kasasa also aims to put high-quality digital products in the hands of consumers because, said Krajicek, often consumers say they couldn’t belong to a credit union because the digital is no good.

But what if it, in fact, is good? With the right digital products, community institutions can and will survive, said Krajicek.

Along the way, Krajicek- whose company serves both community banks and credit unions – says community institutions would better serve their interests if they recognized that they have more in common and in particular they have in common a shared enemy and that’s the money center banks.

It’s an interesting thesis. So often community banks and credit unions are reflexively Hatfield and McCoy. But what if they joined together to oppose a shared foe?

What if? What if cooperation flourished? It’s a big vs. small battle, he said.  And nowadays it’s becoming a life or death struggle where many community institutions are vanishing.

Krajicek tosses out big ideas. Come along for the ride in this CU.0 podcast.

Listen here.

credit union banking, credit union member experience, credit union podcast

Check out other podcasts in the series here!

CU 2.0 Fintech Friday: Hound Software

It’s CU 2.0 Fintech Friday! Today, Chris Otey sits down with Hound Software to discuss all things credit union, fintech, and digital innovation.

CU2.0 credit union fintech partnership innovation

Hound Software accomplishes workflow automation for credit unions. They partner with credit unions, for whom they collect, integrate, and analyze member data. From there, they initiate and direct an automated workflow to guide members through relevant services.

Hound Software focuses on customer satisfaction and experience. Through data collection and analysis, they strengthen relationships between credit unions and their members. Hound Software helps credit unions stay in front of their members so they stay engaged and satisfied.

Hound Software’s primary roles are in customer retention, revenue management, and upselling. Hound Software helps credit unions create multiple-stage processes and workflows on the fly. Hound Software also integrates with communications, analytics, and machine learning systems to keep your credit union smart and well-connected.

If this sounds like an intriguing credit union–fintech partnership, check out the video and Hound Software snapshot below!

Credit Union Fintech Snapshot: Hound Software

Top 3 Problems Solved

  1. Customer retention
  2. Revenue management
  3. Upselling

Hound Software Founder: Manrique Feoli

Hound Software Market Strategy

Credit unions, financial institutions, commercial businesses.

Credit Union Fintech: Hound Software in the News

Hound Software debuts in Florida

Interested in seeing more fintech entrepreneurship? Check out the CU 2.0 fintech infographic, Death by 1,000 Cuts. You can see firsthand the impact fintechs have had on the credit union industry, as well as how fintech innovation can improve your income statement, balance sheet, interest margin, services, and more.

Credit Union 2.0 believes fully in the power of credit union and fintech partnerships. With the shared goal to redefine multifaceted financial services models look like to members, more credit unions are looking to partner with forward-leaning fintechs.

If you want to learn more about credit union–fintech partnerships, click here.

How to Optimize SEO for your Credit Union’s Content Using the 4 C’s of Content Marketing

When big banks control the top spots on Google for keywords like “mortgages” and “financial health”, what chance does a community oriented Credit Union have of standing out to potential members? The solution is to express the content using words that apply to your company’s own unique brand and community. Learn the steps to optimize SEO for your credit union.

If your credit union does not write content and deliver content to members through e-mail campaigns and social media, then this article is not for you.

The first thing we need to understand is how search engine traffic works. In the early days of Google, achieving the first spot for simple keyword searches such as “mortgage” was a straightforward task. The word “mortgage” in this case, is known as a “short tailed keyword” and unfortunately, would not yield very good or relevant search results today. Expanding this search to “mortgage offers at credit unions near me” will provide a much narrower and targeted result.

This specific and deliberate search is the type of traffic that credit unions need to target. The idea is that when a potential member performs a search on something like “checking accounts for families near me”, the goal is to funnel this member into a process that ultimately leads them into becoming a credit union member. A community oriented credit union should know that creating cluster content on specific topics can lead target members to their website and signup process. To understand how to best capture the ideal search traffic, we’ve boiled down the process into the 4 C’s of keywords that belong in all of the content produced by your Credit Union.

optimize seo for your credit union

Want to learn more about how to Optimize SEO for your credit union and other website tips? Click on the article below.

Credit Union Website Basics

Real Time Is Coming at You: Ready or Not 

By Robert McGarvey 

For CU2.0 

 

A new report out of Celent asks a question that just may terrify you: Are banks ready for a real time world? 

You probably know the answer at your credit union. 

Join the club: many – probably most – credit unions are nowhere close to embracing a real time financial services universe. 

Tell me why it takes a day – sometimes several days – to move money from an account at my credit union to a payee already in the system when, truly, it simply is a matter of shifting bits and bytes? 

Money can – and now should – move as fast as a text message and if a friend in India sends me an SMS via Facebook right about now it is showing up in my FB queue. 

It can happen in financial services. Everybody – that means you – will have to climb aboard. We now are in an instant world.  “Real time payments,” said Celent, “have moved beyond being an if to a when.” 

Here’s a Celent observation: “Most existing payment engines have a number of challenges in delivering real-time payments. First, they are generally batch-driven, rather than single message and instant, and so simply not suitable. The second, and less obvious reason, is that they require downtime for maintenance and upgrades, something that isn’t allowed in a real-time payment solution. Many real-time payment schemes only have downtime over the year measured in seconds. Old technology simply wasn’t designed to support that.” 

What Celent is prescribing is adoption of a robust payments hub that can provide the 21st century world what it wants. 

“Real-time payments require all the activity in the value chain to be carried out, typically in under a second, if not quicker. If all the processes are within the hub, they are easier to manage and coordinate. But as volumes increase, this becomes more and more essential. Furthermore, functions that sit within the hub will be subject to the same design requirements in terms of availability and maintenance,” wrote the Celent author, Gareth Lodge. 

Some realtime functions already are in use in the United States. 

Digital currencies – the report pointed in particular to Ripple – are paving the way for a shift to real time money movement. 

Zelle also is a step into realtime for institutions that adopt it (and some credit unions already have – such as America First Credit Union and BECU).  And Dwolla offers realtime ACH transfer functionality.  

Don’t necessarily expect smooth sailing for your institution into the real time universe. Exactly how – and how well – many competing real time systems will integrate with each other is not yet known. 

Then, too, as Celent pointed out: “The term real-time payments perhaps hides an obvious truth: in order to make the payment real-time, everything and anything that touches the payment, including fraud checking, balance checks, and the front end initiation system have also to be real-time…24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

All of that represents a massive change in how credit unions work.  Digital banks, Celent pointed out, are architected from the word “go” to handle real time. A legacy institution has a different, very real set of challenges. Said Celent: “Real-time payments then are the vanguard of the digital bank. New banks, built from the ground up, do not need to give this a second thought, but for any other bank, the task of converting from the existing infrastructure is a huge task.” 

And the news gets worse.  Said Celent: “Many banks still run core banking systems that are over a decade old. The chances are that unless it has been replaced within the last five years, it is still a batch system. This poses immediate challenges — how to update the customer balance until the next batch, overnight run.” 

Institutions – and their cpre providers – are fiddling with workarounds.  But that’s the point: there will definitely have to be workarounds and they may not always be easy, elegant or even straightforward. 

What to do?  The first step is recognizing that now indeed is the start of real time banking.  That, said Celent, is integral to the transformation into the digital bank that just about all now know is the future. Wrote Celent: “Banks may see the need to move to a digital bank, but they may be struggling to make the business case for investing in real-time payments. Yet there is a confluence of the digital banking trend with real-time payments, as they share many of the same attributes and indeed, that make it impossible for a digital bank to truly exist without it.” 

Absolutely right. Until real-time payments are part of the package the institution just isn’t a digital bank. Period. 

The 21st Century Credit Union Welcome 

By Robert McGarvey 

for Credit Union 2.0

 

Sign up as a new member at your credit union – or pick any credit union – and what happens? 

Ask yourself a sharper question: what doesn’t happen?  Think hard on that because the future of this new member relationship hangs in the balance. 

Amy Downs, CEO at Allegiance Credit Union, a $260 million institution headquartered in Oklahoma City, has been thinking hard on these very questions and she believes she has found an answer that helps bring her credit union squarely into the 21st century’s digital world. 

Mind you, Amy has worked at Allegiance for many years, 30 in fact. She remembers the new member welcomes of the old days. Back then Allegiance was officed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and it serviced federal employees.  As new workers were onboarded by human resources, they ordinarily were brought by the credit union and of course they got a warm welcome from the credit union employees, recalled Amy. Many of those new employees signed up on the spot.  And why not? They had been sincerely greeted by credit union employees – probably including the president, definitely senior managers. They knew they had a name and face they could seek out down the road if they had an issue they wanted to discuss. 

What bank could match those human faces at the credit union? 

Flashforward to nowadays and what happens when a new member joins a credit union? Increasingly that happens online. Then what? Probably there is a welcome email – and doesn’t that sound warm, friendly and inviting? 

Not. 

Probably, too, there is a welcome packet that arrives by US Mail – along with bunches of postcards from nearby dental offices, solicitations for donations, and maybe a past due notice on an electric bill. 

Credit unions are scrambling – and many are failing – to make good, warm ties with new members. And many of those new members drift away or, even more commonly, they never put more than a few dollars into their credit union account. The bulk of their wallet is at another institution. 

The future for credit unions is terrible – if things stay like this. 

Matters got especially complicated at Allegiance. In 2002, the credit union got a community charter where it now serves people who live or work in the six counties around Oklahoma City. 

In that transition, what was lost was that new employee introduction and that was a powerful moment that set up thousands of strong member – credit union relationships. 

Amy thought on this and then she heard about an alternative.  What she now sends new members is a welcome video in which her smiling face is on camera, offering a sincere happiness that the new member brought Allegiance their business. 

A couple times a week she scans the list of new members and when she recognizes a name, she makes a personal video. When she saw a husband of a close personal friend, she laughingly said in that video, “About time you listened to your wife!” 

But even with the members she doesn’t know, what they see in Amy’s video is a person who is glad to meet them. 

“We are losing our personal touch, all credit unions are,” said Amy.  “Everything has changed. It’s not the way it was, when we were on a first name basis with all our members. Now we have to work at it.” 

When Amy heard about new member welcome videos, she wanted to know more. When she discovered the costs are nominal – she records her own, using a digital video recorder that cost $65 – and the actual time to record is a matter of minutes, she was all in. 

Understand: the video is similar to what would have been an in-person meet and greet with a new member a generation ago. Amy’s videos are in the vicinity of 30 seconds. That matters because our attention spans just aren’t suited to movie-length video welcomes.

The bottomline for Amy and Allegiance: “We have to start marketing in different ways, or credit unions will be left behind.” 

Use the technology that is readily available to forge stronger ties with new members. Welcome videos – absolutely – are a step in that direction. 

Credit Union 2.0 has developed video solutions for new member welcomes – they in fact facilitated the work for Allegiance. For more info, here’s the contact. 

Want to see Amy’s video? Click here.