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Brand Stories, Blockchain, Easy AIs & More: A Recap of Our 2019 Symposium

May 21, 2019

symposium recap

For those of you who were unable to make it to our 2019 Symposium and Annual Meeting this year, we've compiled a summary and helpful bullet points on the infomation presented at the event. Below, you can read a snapshot of the presentations from our three guest speakers, Frank Diekmann of CUToday, John Ainsworth of CULedger, and John Best of Best Innovation Group. In line with the theme of our Symposium this year, we went around the room and interviewed attendees on their thoughts on "THE FUTURE OF CREDIT UNIONS." You can read their responses at the bottom of this article.

 The event kicked off with a packed house full of industry friends and colleagues at The Lakeview Room in Denver. Thanks to everyone who made it out to our 2019 Symposium & Annual Meeting. Feel free to bookmark this page as a refresher. It was a lot of information to jot down.

Our keynote speaker and founder of CUToday, Frank Diekmann, got all of our brains working bright and early with his talk, “2020 Vision: 20 Things to Be Thinking About in the Year Ahead”.

Frank diekmann

Major takeaways from this session included:

  • Rethink what to do with overdrafts
  • Test your staff’s instincts around phishing with your own “malware” (and provide remedial training if they “fail” your test)
  • Picture how you might incorporate AR (augmented reality) — it’s not that far into the future
  • Don’t just map the member journey, map the new employee journey
  • Have a member reunion to get some facetime
  • Hit the road to take a learning journey
  • If you screw up, own it and then…
  • Be authentic in the fake news world
  • Be the bridge to dreams (Tulsa Federal Credit Union shares a fun promotional video example)
  • If it sounds like a message you’ve heard a thousand times, kill it
  • Serve and respect the women’s market
  • Remember that cheap can be good — high production value (such as with video marketing) is not necessarily what wins customers
  • Tell your story and tell it differently

While the gears were turning in everyone’s head, we challenged them to open their minds yet again.

Next, John Ainsworth of CULedger led a session about, “More than Blockchain: Distributed Ledger Technology will Define the Credit Union Industry of Tomorrow.”

John Ainsworth

During his talk, John Ainsworth introduced the concept of the fourth industrial revolution, marked by the convergence of physical and digital systems. He then went on to explain the basics of blockchain technology for those of us in the audience who haven’t yet taken the plunge into Bitcoin investing.

Then, he introduced the concept of “privacy by design” — a presence that you own and control that can never be taken away.

Its application for credit unions comes together with the concept for MyCUID — a KYC-backed digital credential that involves confirmation with biometrics and other security standards. Put into practice, it will provide a better customer experience when it comes to a member confirming their identity with credit union staff to gain access to their account.

We’re excited to see how this concept will come into play for the future of credit unions!

Next, John Best of Best Innovation Group led a session about, “The Art of Artificial Intelligence”.

john best

Rather than getting deep in the weeds regarding how AI works, John Best helped us to understand how the data we already have (or should be gathering) can inform machine learning around things like how people use ATMs, online banking, and in-person services at credit union locations.

He also introduced the ATMEYE product, which uses AI and machine learning to determine when shutting down an ATM could save subsequent users from a bad experience (such as when ATMEYE identifies someone putting tape on a camera to skim debit card data).

John Best ended his session with a live demonstration of a DIY AI tool: Google’s Coral. It got us all thinking about the possibilities but he left us with this important final thought: AI will be a differentiator and you’ve got to master it — but first, master data analytics.

Our own Doug Burke gave the last session to keep the audience appraised about “The Future of CU Service Network”. Specifically, he talked about shared branching, the Cloud 9 program for onboarding, and our data analytics capabilities.

Before and after sessions, we spoke to attendees about their own predictions regarding the future of credit unions and these were some of our favorite responses:

“Capital One” started something with their coffee cafes. I can see credit unions doing more of this cafe style. As far as tech goes, it’ll get more advanced to the point where there are less branches and it'll become a more laid back/comfortable setting.”
- Jason Salazar and Chris Archuleta, Arapahoe CU

“It’s bright! Consumers are looking for value, stability, and local. They want to be heard and understood. Credit unions are in that mentality and banks are one size fits all — do it this way or go elsewhere. Credit unions can handle customization. “
- Gary Kindle, Elevations CU

Postal banking. We’re used to fighting a tax from the bankers as to why we’re different and how we’re a better value for members but now there’s a growing political movement that suggests that the post office should offer banking. I think CUs are having to come back against that as a grassroots movement. We have to say “Wait a second, we’re already here, we’ve been here, we’ve got this. Don’t worry about reinventing the wheel”. You never know where the disruption will come from, which is why we have to stay on our toes — fighting against banks, Fintechs, and the online space.”
- Nina Myers, Fitzsimons CU

We’ll see less credit unions, more members, and industry consolidation. We’ll begin to compete with technology (through data analytics, reaching members will greatly improve over decades). Tech will help us anticipate members needs.”
- Scott Ferndelli, Arapahoe CU

“You’re now competing with more than just other brick and mortar financial institutions. Now there are internet-based institutions, too. We need to work on getting the message to the public that credit unions are an owner-owned situation. I hope that bigger credit unions won’t try and become banks as some already have.”
- Karen Rusan, Electrical CU

What’s surprised me is the velocity of change that’s picking up faster than we thought.
Accelerating faster than we’d imagine. The Estonia example is great showing how you can start
way behind the times and forging ahead. Especially in privacy by design and ownership over
your own privacy data. We can better define our niche. How do we speak to a shifting customer in vernacular they’ll understand, not just finance terms?
- Steven Leafgreen, Western Vista FCU

“Service is the place where you can beat the big banks, even though they’re closing the gaps. It helps to have good causes and passions — you can leverage those. We have the ammunition, it’s just making sure people know that we feel strongly about it and creating alignment.”
- Raj Madan, Blue FCU

Credit unions focus on the individual and uniqueness for each member. We’re going to have to
create broader base programs that more people can engage with
(crowdfunding/accessibility to vehicles) painting a broader brush than unique package.
- Peter Bullard, CU of the Rockies

Thanks again to all who attended our 2019 Symposium event! We look forward to moving forward with you in 2019 towards the future of credit unions in 2020 and beyond.




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