CU Employee Community Chair

While highlighting the importance and changes to be made with innovation in keeping up with the pace of consumers, Mike Upton, Chief Technology and Digital Officer at First Tech Credit Union, initiated the session on “Innovation”. Quoting Mr. Bill Gates, he said: 

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

Having previously worked with banks he focused on the technological requirements of the industry, what are the things that need to be done and their positioning relative to consumers. In his opinion, there has been a change in general consumer sentiment toward credit unions. Talking about how members will experience in the next the five years, credit unions need to be prepared with the changes that come and placing the right strategic bets. This counts on the ability to turn data into relevant experiences and business. The impact of placing smart bets and making the right investments is the difference between who will win and who will be left behind. Credit unions find where to put the bets and align for relevance in future.

Speaking about the ‘Bankless Banking’, the best example being Amazon, he discussed an end to end fulfillment experience leading to value change. Similarly, over the next five to ten years the members will experience their Credit Unions in entirely new ways. This would be possible through digital media as it will continue to rapidly transform member engagement having done so with many other industries such as travel, music, books, and shopping. In his view, the fact of the matter is that we can opine for everything digital but there is still an active role for physical and always will be. This physical is the human touch. There will be a general expectation that things will be easy and straightforward, ready on the go. This expectation would be owing to digital convenience.

Consequently the need for investing in experiences and technologies otherwise credit unions run the risk of being left further and further behind He is not afraid of Bankless banking but is instead excited about it. Then he talks about how he is preparing his credit union for bank-less banking environment. The members would be looking forward to three factors- availability on demand, security, and scalability. Each the elements have its domain being, performance in the business community, auditability compliance and support biz growth control costs respectively. And this all adds up to one thing that is virtualizing Credit Union.

He believes that managing cybersecurity is at par with credit risks. The internal employees conduct most breaches of security as a consequence of direct access. According to him breaches in security is increasing in frequency as well as evolving, and this calls for protection of data and the system at large. He considers that it is entirely about delivering the relevant experiences and the war for relevance is fought in data rooms to be relevant. Credit Union as a platform to deliver relevant experience can integrate First Tech, which adopts an API driven strategy offered by him, and turn it into a platform to obtain internal flexibility and externally to partner. He talked about OmniChannel which is all about meeting and exceeding member expectations. In his opinion, customers can feel the pain, and there are two subsequent situations- repeating information and channel switching. He talked about building silos but its drawback is that it lacks experience transfers and is expensive. This is obtained through bridging the current silos to put the member at the center of the experience. He identified the heart of the problem to be uncertainty and the way to remain relevant whenever wherever and have every member choose to engage is by eliminating that uncertainty.

Elaborating on Omni, he said it is more about remaining relevant, removing friction and finding your path. Towards the end, he spoke about connecting with the voices of the members and design thinking, about reinventing and making better the overall experience of members.

In conclusion, in the session he mainly discussed three major areas, which are, firstly consumer expectations, secondly can customer relationship management control all channels and lastly how the brain can connect to applications. It is more about relevance in the future which is obtained by experiences and technological shift.


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