The following post was provided by the Association for British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL), World Council's direct member organization in the United Kingdom.
ABCUL spent almost a year consulting with the British credit union sector to create a shared vision alongside a strategy and roadmap to get us there, and digitisation was a key cross-cutting theme which we’re delighted to share with global colleagues through World Council.
Challenge 2025 resonates strongly with us and our members. It links directly with our new vision and strategy document which forms the basis for the sector and ABCUL’s shared future, its lobbying priorities, and our product and service development agenda.
Our consultation set the context for credit unions that are operating in an aging membership base, the lack of digital services for members to access their credit unions across the whole sector, despite pockets of excellence, and the need for increased digital marketing skills to enable credit unions to make themselves known to potential members. It also focused on the comparatively low level of formal collaboration within the sector and the lack of knowledge, skills and/or time available to do supplier selection from the range of available options following the entry of a number of FinTech operations to the credit union market in the last five years.
Through engagement with over 250 individuals from across our sector at events across Britain and online – we are thrilled to have launched our shared Vision 2025 at our Annual Conference and AGM in March of this year, which opens: “By 2025, credit unions will be digital-first providers of savings, lending and payment products, offering the sort of technology that facilitates the access to products that most people now expect.”
Digital provision of services is front and centre in our vision for the sector and British credit unions overwhelmingly agree that an increase in the pace of digitisation will enable the sector to overcome some of its key development challenges, including contributing to more efficient operations and reductions in operating costs, easing the journey of consumers to choose credit unions and access to their products and services, and establishing a strong evidence base of who credit unions are currently serving and what their needs are.
Credit unions in Britain overwhelmingly support partnering with FinTech organisations as the route to achieve digitisation of their service offerings and back office processes, with over 80% of consultation respondents indicating this is their preferred route. ABCUL has committed to supporting its members to effectively navigate the FinTech environment to take advantage of the huge opportunities available to enhance service delivery in highly cost-effective ways.
Another key feature of our vision is to support the creation of credit union-owned and led CUSOs (which are not currently a feature of our sector) to enable access to quality, affordable services tailored to the needs of credit unions. The top areas highlighted by credit unions to develop this idea are I.T. and payments infrastructure. 85% of respondents actively support the creation of CUSOs for the British sector.
In addition to the above, other key areas in our vision and strategy focus on developing the digital marketing skills base and the centralised collection of standardised data that shows who credit unions are serving to enable effective lobbying and targeted marketing and promotion, as well as service development.
It is worth highlighting that there is innovation happening across our sector already with credit unions already engaged in significant digitisation, either in-house or through FinTech partnerships. Here are a few examples:
- Clockwise Credit Union has completely overhauled its back and front office systems enabling a smooth, digital member experience and can now give instant loan decisions and payments 24/7;
- Serve and Protect Credit Union recently won the Affordable Credit Challenge (a Government initiative to support collaborative working between affordable lenders and FinTechs) with their partner Credit Kudos for the development of a reward loan, which uses Open Banking data to monitor borrowers’ behaviour and dynamically reduce the interest rate they pay, and;
- Many British credit unions have adopted Nivo, which is a secure messaging service which also allows secure onboarding, compliant document signing and biometric identity verification.
ABCUL is confident that the strategy and roadmap we have now shared with the British sector sets out the clear path we need to take to achieve our Vision 2025 and contribute to the digitisation of the global credit union system.