It is stated that digital transformation refers to anything from cloud computing, modernizing legacy systems, digital process optimization or creating new business models.
Organizations will need to best define their digital path forward and how best they can leverage its use, but must keep members’ expectations in mind. Expectations for our information systems and users of these systems will increase and the velocity of change will increase in quicker increments. Credit unions will need to respond differently to member needs, and this requires us to work faster, and ensure flexibility and iterative processes for quick wins in how we serve members. To maintain a competitive advantage, credit unions will need to have a dynamic infrastructure that can keep pace with business and member demand, which will in turn drive business value.
From the beginning
Civic Federal Credit Union is just such an organization. Based in Raleigh, NC, with just over $64 million in assets, Civic was chartered in 2018 and became the first digital-only credit union in North Carolina. Civic’s journey began several years prior, when the Board of Directors and management of Local Government Federal Credit Union wanted to extend digital banking services for its field of membership to meet growing member needs and technology advancements in financial services. Starting a de novo credit union hadn’t been done in some time, especially one being all digital.
Civic knew it would take time for regulators to provide charter approval for a new credit union so, during the pre-charter phase, Civic met internally and externally with critical stakeholders and partners to determine the path forward for an all-digital credit union.
A consistent message arose from all this, one that other credit unions seeking to digitize their services should note: it would take a huge amount of collaboration and teamwork among our business and technology staffers, as well as our third-party vendors to succeed. Page after page of requests for information, hours on hours of product and service demos, as well industry site visits led staff and management to best determine what was needed to ensure Civic was successful at launch. Four years of planning and preparing culminated to make Civic a reality, and the idea of banking better with better technology happen.
As Civic was chartered and would soon open its digital doors, management and staff understood they would need to have a differentiator within the technology stack. Legacy systems in core banking were huge hurdles for some credit unions to overcome to begin their digital journey, let alone compete with FinTech and others in the industry. As a de novo already playing catch-up to established credit unions to complete, Civic needed to embrace a full digital journey out the gate.
Coming into Focus
Civic’s advantage came early with not having the drag of legacy systems that would hinder or prevent their digital first mantra. Civic’s strategic decision was digital first, so it was vital that the credit union had reliable digital services to engage and onboard potential members, as well provide for existing members. From account opening to deposit and lending services, member services through marketing—literally everything Civic did needed to cater to their members’ ability to do business with Civic electronically. When a member joined Civic, the systems needed to say “yes” to members for what they wanted. Whether you were a new or existing member, business or consumer, workflows were built that would take members where they wanted to go. Automating as much as possible throughout their digital experience was critical to managing member expectations and ensuring their experience was seamless.
Digital services implemented by Civic include, but are not limited to:
- Online Account Opening.
- Online Loan Origination with auto decisioning.
- Online and Mobile Banking, including:
- Mobile Deposit Capture.
- Account Transfers.
- Bill Pay.
- P2P Payments.
- Online and Video Chat.
- Mobile myScore+ (Credit Score).
- Mobile Financial Wellness (PFM).
- Digital Wallets.
- Online and Mobile Card Services.
- Electronic Signature.
- Website AI (Chat Bot).
- ATM anywhere access (no fee).
While member facing technology took a front seat for how Civic was built for members, staff and management also required internal technology, such as mobility and virtualization, to be leveraged not just at the network and server level, but for core banking, ancillary applications and even the desktop. Virtualization enabled faster delivery for performance and capabilities, and mobility allowed staff to serve members securely from anywhere. These key decisions would not only ensure Civic had the systems to launch, but also the versatility to deliver faster for business and members moving forward. Civic needed to build a technology ecosystem that could say “yes” to member demand as well as business requirements, and did so by understanding and adopting digitization opportunities.
I would be remiss not to mention all the hard work made capable by the effort of Civic’s dedicated staff and third-party vendors working day in and day out to implement core and ancillary applications and systems, business processes and procedures, as well products and services to help realize Civic’s opportunity in serving their members.
Today and the path forward
As Civic continues to grow and leverage digitization, the technology focus going forward has been in the following areas:
- Increase operational agility and performance in the delivery of technology services.
- Improve the design and delivery of data management so business can expand their capabilities and decisions.
- Improve and invest in security capabilities to protect mission-critical systems and data.
- Transform and simplify business processes through seamless integrations, automation, digitalization and technology around machine learning and artificial intelligence.
- Accelerate the adoption of common technology platforms and shared services to bring enterprise closer together.
- Foster collaboration and boundaryless behaviors to bridge the gap between business and technology.
The past year brought an unimaginable disruption to everyone across the globe. Several within the financial services industry were scrambling to determine how best to support their members. However, for Civic, while the world around kept changing, they continued to deliver for their members. It was that embracing of digital first early that enabled Civic to not miss a beat in serving their members.
Civic is not just growing in membership and assets but evolving how they consume digital. Leveraging aspects of cloud computing for web services, artificial intelligence for member engagement or behavior, integrations leveraging application program interface (API) and machine learning for seamless connectivity, data analytics and advance cybersecurity, digital is a core competency that enables Civic to make it easier for its members to access their money, completely in the palm of their hand. Civic was built to be scalable, reliable and secure to meet their members at the intersection of technology and financial services.
Civic Federal Credit Union is a purpose-driven cooperative that puts people first and their continual embrace of digital transformation allows them to not worry about the constraints of technology, but put focus on serving local government units, employees, family members and volunteers in the channel and capacity they want to be served; to improve their lives and the communities in which they live.
This post was written by Terry W. Phelps Jr., Senior Vice President, Managed Information Systems Civic FCU and Local Government Federal Credit Union. Learn more about Civic Federal Credit Union at https://www.civicfcu.org.