Credit Union InnovationBringing new meaning to pay at the pump, Barclays has introduced the first ever self-service beer dispenser that accepts contactless payments, because.... well... it's pretty cool! But it also demonstrates their commitment to innovation, responding to that ever-present problem that Brits have with queuing for their next pint (#firstworldproblems). Brewing up a creative way to meet demands requires an organization-wide commitment to technology as well as flexibility within their systems to enable such developments. Many financial institutions struggle with "Innovation Killers" which come in different forms: Leaders reluctant to expand their thinking, limited budgets, employees lacking the necessary knowledge and capabilities, and legacy system hardware or software limitations. Does your credit union struggle with Innovation Killers?  

The credit union industry, historically, is not known to cultivate the innovative thinker, but is heavily focused on risk management that permeates beyond the lending department. This presents another opportunity for credit unions to differentiate themselves from big banks. Once overcoming the hurdle of getting the board's 'buy-in' to get creative and innovative, credit unions should look to encourage the innovative spirit of their employees and vendors alike.

Yet, sometimes it's the vehicle used to drive innovation that can become your biggest Innovation Killer. Your core system holds the keys to drive technology but also has the power to put the brakes on development. If your partner in core processing has put up barriers to your credit union open architecture, or shut out the possibility of open API's, you can be seriously limiting your chance at a unique offering to meet member demands. Dealing with legacy technology that lacks the ability to integrate with third-party solutions, or with vendors unwilling to assist in the integration, often times means that the awesome idea Tracy in IT had to improve your mobile banking experience will go unrealized.
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According to a survey from, more than one-third of financial institutions say that their IT systems make innovation “difficult” or “very difficult.” For credit unions that do have flexible IT infrastructures... 70% of their recent innovations were extremely successful. For credit unions willing to give new ideas a go, another innovation killer is the lack of an ability to simply try - 83.6% of respondents said that their core processing systems lack any kind of sandbox for testing innovations. Without a configurable core system, and a safe environment to test out new technology, ideas often die.

But leave it to beer to give a reason for a British bank to break the mold. It's time for your credit union to demand more from your staff and technology vendors to think of new ways to meet your member's demands. Don't let Innovation Killers persist. Find partners that will drive the innovation today's market needs and can help you find the solutions your members want... perhaps not beer, but maybe as simple as an improved mobile lending platform, a convenient eSignature workflow or possibly integrations with Amazon's Alexa.

Take a look at a few innovations open architecture and API's have empowered credit unions to leverage:

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Topics: Integrated Apps, Core Technology, credit union software

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