Each year, CU 2.0 recognizes the fintechs that have improved credit union technology and the member experience. For our first annual awards in 2021, we honor those that forged new ways for members to manage their finances.
In 2021, CU 2.0 recognizes the following companies for their work to bring new and better banking features to members:
- Winner: UNest
- Runners up: RenoFi, Senso, DoubleCheck, Otomo*, Equipifi
Read on to see why we chose each fintech—and the value they bring to credit unions.
What Are We Calling “Member-Facing Tech”?
We’re defining “member-facing technology” to mean features, integrations, and applications that members use directly. So, although credit union CRMs, data analytics platforms, and the like may improve the member experience, they don’t promote “self-driving finance,” so to speak.
We believe that the member experience is most enhanced by technology that they can use themselves. When done right, these technologies can do more than simply improve member finances. They can also drastically increase digital engagement and strengthen CU–member relationship. In many cases, they can be a key technological differentiator over competitors.
So, here’s to putting the power in the member’s hands.
About Our Winners
Of all our categories, this one is the broadest and includes the most potential for different interpretations. Accordingly, we picked a few extra runners up. Also, we’re going to qualify each choice not only by its impact on members, but also by its benefit to the credit union…
After all, it helps if there’s a financial or operational reason for credit unions to bring in outside technology.
UNest wins the first Fintech 2.0 Award for Member-Facing Technology. UNest is a money app for kids’ futures. The company’s mission is to close the wealth gap and level the playing field for the next generation. And that mission drives UNest to partner with credit unions instead of banks.
The UNest platform makes it easier than ever for parents to open a simple, flexible, tax-advantaged investment account to build a healthy nest egg for their children. Anyone with a smartphone can get started in just five minutes, and families can use the funds for anything child-related with zero penalties. All members have access to advisor-guided portfolios, educational programs, rewards, and unlimited gifting.
We love that UNest caters to the family-rearing demographic—younger than the average age of credit union members, which is (gulp) 47. They’ve attracted around a half a million users already, and they’re bringing them into the credit union fold.
So, for bringing in a much-needed demographic with a critical service, we give the nod to UNest.
Our runners up include:
- RenoFi. RenoFi helps members improve their homes by getting them better renovation loans. With RenoFi, members can borrow against the expected post-construction value of their home. Generally, this means they can dream (and borrow) bigger for home improvements.
- Senso. Senso proactively identifies members who are looking to buy a house. Then, they guide that member through the purchase and financing processes, ensuring that they get the best fit for them—and gives the credit unions a head start / leg up over competing mortgage lenders.
- DoubleCheck. Several things are true: members hate fees; fee income is being challenged, legislatively; and many banks are already ditching fees as a key value differentiator. DoubleCheck gives payment options to members who might otherwise incur fees—and cuts the credit union in on the resultant non-interest income.
- Otomo*. No, there is no asterisk next to Otomo’s name, but we also mentioned them in our award for Mobile Banking Experience. The Otomo platform is self-driving finance as a service. They use AI to suggest financial goals for members—and then use automation to help members achieve those goals. So, whether paying off debt, saving, investing, or booking vacations, members get what they want, while credit unions get better engagement and non-interest income.
- Equipifi. If your credit union isn’t on the BNPL (that’s Buy Now, Pay Later) train yet, it’s time to buy your ticket. Millennials and Gen Z—especially those with disposable income—use BPNL for purchases of all sizes. And, if they don’t get it from you, they’ll get it from Afterpay, Klarna, or Affirm.
Other Fintech 2.0 Award Winners
CU 2.0 also recognizes fintech leaders in conversational banking and the mobile banking experience. See the other winners and runners up here!