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Combining Collaborative Principles With Integrated Digital Solutions: The CUSO Advantage

How Connect's Emerge Digital Banking Platform puts a wrap on a diverse lineup of software to enable credit unions to compete and win.

Technology-focused credit union service organizations (CUSOs) apply the cooperative principles of member-owned financial institutions to provide leading-edge digital products in a uniquely credit union-focused collaborative ecosystem.

Connect FSS is a good example. More than 65 credit unions use the Utah-based CUSO’s expanding list of software solutions for digital banking, bill pay, online account opening and lending applications, and other related services.

Here, Connect FSS president and CEO Grant Parry discusses the importance of wrapping into a neat package the digital technology that today’s member-owned cooperatives need to compete for the hearts and minds of demanding consumers who have lots of options.

Please describe the Emerge Digital Banking Platform and how it fits into the Connect FSS product lineup.

Grant Parry: Our focus as a CUSO is to provide a complete digital experience for our credit union clients. We offer digital banking, online account opening, internet lending, electronic document presentment, and digital secure forms. While all of these can be deployed separately, the greatest benefit comes when the complete product suite is leveraged to provide a comprehensive and seamless digital experience.

How does Emerge help credit unions compete in a marketplace that expects constant innovation?

GP: Our product roadmap is a fusion of our own analysis and deep engagement with our clients. We continually scan for trends in technology, consumer behavior, innovation in financial services, and regulatory changes. We then review that analysis and create the roadmap that we believe will meet the competitive needs of our clients. Through our Advisory Council and Innovation Group meetings, we then obtain the critical feedback from our clients to ensure we focus on the challenges and opportunities that are important to them.

What other opportunities and challenges does Emerge help credit unions leverage and overcome?

GP: Credit unions face unprecedented competition from massive technology companies, megabanks, neobanks, and fintech competitors. While the diversity among competitors has never been greater, the value proposition offered in every case is the same.

The competition offers to provide financial services with the highest possible convenience and the lowest possible friction. They are creating experiences for consumers, and the consumers are flocking towards those experiences.

At least for now, credit unions enjoy the advantage of the breadth of their product offerings and the goodwill they have accumulated over decades of providing superior services through non-digital channels. The opportunity the credit unions must now take advantage of is to provide a digital experience layer that wraps all their enterprise systems and provides the low-friction experiences of the competition.

This will allow credit unions to remain competitive in the face of an ever-increasing array of financial service offerings. Consumers crave simplicity and convenience, and the benefit of a seamless experience layer across a wide variety of products and services provides an offering that’s difficult for the competition to beat.

How does Emerge increase member value for client credit unions?

GP: We believe that in the digital banking world, increasing member value is a function of maximizing the breadth of products that can be accessed and services that can be performed, while providing simplicity of use and automated back-end fulfillment of requests.

If members can do what they want, when they want, with a minimum of waiting for someone else, this is the experience they are seeking. At the same time, they’ll occasionally need help or advice, and human interactions need to be just a click away.

What are the major differentiators between Emerge and your competitors?

GP: We believe our key differentiators are the collaborative way in which we do business combined with our cooperative business model.

Where other providers are focused on growth for growth’s sake, or on maximizing revenue from clients based on mass deployment of a cookie-cutter digital experience, our focus is on tailoring the digital experience that our clients deliver to their members.

This ensures that each credit union can deliver the exact set of products and services that will allow them to differentiate in their specific market.

How can my credit union find out more about Connect FSS and Emerge?

GP: Check out Connect’s website at www.connectfss.com or contact us at sales@connectfss.com to discuss how Connect’s Emerge platform can be tailored to meet your credit union’s goals and objectives.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
September 16, 2021

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