The following post is provided by Sicredi, the largest credit union system in Brazil and a direct member of World Council of Credit Unions.
The digital age has been revolutionizing the way we interact, the way we are informed, the way we consume and, of course, how we relate with our financial lives.
Despite new technologies changing the world at a rapid pace, people are the real ones behind these changes. For example, we are able to experience multiple realities simultaneously—virtual or in person—and this influences the dynamics of society. For this and other reasons, digital transformation is a core theme at Sicredi.
Financial markets are subject to significant digitalization and at a rate higher than in some other economic sectors. A quest for more convenience, practicality, agility and safety—elements valued by everyone—have been steering the development of financial solutions unimaginable a few decades ago. In this sense, the credit union movement has gained in relevance as a way to place the digital economy at the service of people. Though it is important to maintain our roots and our unique differences, it is also important to transform not only our processes, but also elements of our culture, to make a difference in the lives of our members.
Since 2017, Sicredi has been implementing a digital mindset based on the pillars of organizational culture, transformation of the banking process, and core banking and digital business solutions. Far more than merely altering our system, this is a change in the way we develop solutions and the experiences we provide to our members—who are always at the center of our attention.
- We implement agile methodologies and design thinking solutions, which have resulted in a new model for team organization, with greater autonomy and proximity with members. This way, we can further increase our agility in deliveries, ensure teams are prepared for constant changes and guarantee a higher satisfaction index among our stakeholders.
The transformation of processes and core banking
- Transforming processes means rethinking how we do things, to make it as simple as possible for us and our members. For example, reducing the use of paper is not only about sustainability, because the more digital our processes, the more information we have at hand and the deeper our understanding of the behavior of members and staff. As such, we invest in system updates and have completely rethought the essential product and service experiences to make them lighter and adaptable to integration, with new technologies to provide members with better service, and also a means to adapt to the trend of open banking and other new market demands.
- We are becoming data driven, which allows us to make decisions backed by data. We have created an automated back office, which optimizes our workflow, and we have adopted an omnichannel strategy to provide a more fluid experience for all of our services channels. All this was implemented with a focus on our members, placing them—the users of our solutions—at the center.
- One of our biggest challenges during this transformation process is the need to update core banking, without jeopardizing services to our 4.6 million members. As such, our strategy involved building a new core without shutting down the old one. What we aim to do is gradually finish products and services in the new core, and then migrate members in a controlled way. Through the creation of a 100% digital account, we are able to test processes in the new system—from joining the credit union to the opening of a checking account—that are already part of the new core. We are currently migrating savings accounts to the new core, along with other products. This is a long and complex journey, but the goal is to migrate the core banking for all our members over the coming years in a gradual manner, generating new and positive experiences when using our products and services.
- Digital solutions allow us to provide new experiences directly geared to members. In 2018, we launched Woop Sicredi, a 100% digital account. Off the mark, we registered around 24,000 accounts. And with the expansion of the service to other cooperatives throughout 2019, the year closed with 72,200 accounts, an increase of 112%. This initiative allowed us to increase our capacity to engage with members based on the principles and values of cooperativism, as the application offers functionalities that offer daily insight into the cooperative, like monitoring results, meeting representatives and participating in events.
- Woop is a complementary product to our traditional portfolio, as it was conceived for a new audience and does not compete with other solutions we offer. Through Woop, we have been able to test new business models, technologies and processes. The tool has allowed us to introduce a credit union to a new consumer, without the restriction of physical barriers. Currently, we are physically present in 1,400 municipalities and, through Woop Sicredi, we have added 3,000 more. It has also allowed us to rejuvenate our current member base, as 52% of our members arriving through the digital account are younger than 30 years of age.
- We were the first credit union system in Brazil to provide the means for complete membership without leaving the home, not restricted to merely opening an account.
- Our startups have been vital to the development of digital solutions and the evolution of Sicredi and our members. As such, we created the Inovar Juntos (Innovate Together) program, through which we establish partnerships with companies initiating operations which are able to generate innovative solutions.
- One result of this has been Sicredi Conecta, a marketplace application that promotes online business among members, which has been fundamental to the development of business during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Developed by Hallo, which was selected by Sicredi through the Inovar Juntos program, Sicredi Conecta saw a significant increase in the number of transactions over the past few months. The solution is already being used by credit cooperatives affiliated to Sicredi in 18 Brazilian states and has been highly relevant in allowing our members to conduct their business online during the pandemic.
- To generate value for Brazilian farmers, we have begun supporting the Intensive Connection startup acceleration program, conceived by AgTech Garage—one of the largest innovation hubs in Latin America for agribusiness. The initiative ended its first stage with results that point to new horizons in the adoption of technology able to generate positive transformation in the field. Some of the solutions developed by the participants were tested by farmers and attained positive evaluations among 92% of them.
- Aware of changing behaviors among members. we have also developed new channels to interact with them, such as service through WhatsApp Enterprise, a tool through which we are able to foster a closer, more practical, dynamic and fluid relationship experience. This year alone, over one million services have been provided through this channel, which has proven to be an important ally during this time of social distancing.
Within a scenario of such profound influence through new technologies, the construction of a digital culture cannot be considered an end, but rather a constant journey of evolution. The innovative tools of today will not be the same ones shaping the future tomorrow. But building digital DNA based on cooperation is the current mission that will ensure the organization remains relevant for another 100 years. This is how we can evolve together.
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