Meet The Finalists For The 2023 Innovation Series: Digital

This year’s digital solutions provide inventive ways for credit unions to serve members.

Think of it as Shark Tank with a credit union spin, and it’s just been renewed for another season.

The 2023 Innovation Series from and Callahan & Associates is underway. Every year since 2018, this series has offered a select group of suppliers 10 minutes each to impress an audience of credit union decision-makers. It’s simple: Each vendor pitches its offerings and attendees vote on their favorites.

The Innovation Series was a hit from the get-go and continues to grow in popularity. This year’s focus areas include digital, member experience, and lending.

Read on for more from this year’s digital finalists, Aurora Advantage Powered By CSPI, Eltropy, MANTL, VisiFI.



Aurora Advantage Powered By CSPI

Describe your innovation.

Emily Twillman, Director of Branding & Sales Engineering, CSPI

Emily Twillman: CSPI’s Aurora Launch online account opening and lending platform creates a frictionless member experience and improves operational efficiencies by simplifying your team’s engagement. We use core data and soft-inquiry credit pulls to pre-qualify your members. Then, we present instant offers and cross-sell opportunities based on your credit union’s credit policy. With built-in OFAC, KYM, in-session e-signatures, and instant account funding, members can apply and open an account in a matter of minutes.

What opportunity or challenge does it address?

ET: With the threat of fintechs trying to gain traction on wallet share and low staffing numbers, it’s important for credit unions to continue focusing on a digital-first strategy beyond their digital banking platform that will also allow efficiencies to offset growing workload demands.

Many credit unions today offer a digital form for the initial application but then require members to visit the branch to complete verification processes. We understand members’ lives are busy and time is valuable. Aurora Launch provides a complete end-to-end digital solution with 365/24/7 enrollment capabilities, built-in KYM, and verification with automated workflows designed to accelerate loan volume while allowing your credit union team to remain focused on building relations and identifying opportunities.

How does it increase member value?

ET: CSPI’s Aurora Launch digital account opening and lending solution increases member loyalty and helps attract new members by streamlining the onboarding process while providing members personalized insight to their purchasing power with instant offers and quick loan approvals. We believe members will benefit from the convenience of applying for a new account from any location, on any device, at a time that best suits their schedule. The simplistic application and onboarding process can be completed in a matter of minutes verses a matter of days.

With retail prices continuing to scale upward and members tightening their budgets, it’s likely many will seek personal loans to make ends meet or consider refinancing in effort to lower their monthly expenditures. Both of these options support the prime opportunity for credit unions to better engage with members by anticipating their needs and conveniently presenting pre-approved account cross-sell offers throughout the application process, enhancing the borrowers engagement.

What differentiates this innovation from competitors?

ET: The key to revenue growth in this digital day and age is capturing the attention of your client or prospect and making it easy and lucrative for them to engage and grow relationships. When you have an intuitive workflow and it is delivered in simple digital steps, the credit union’s brand is seen as effective, smart, and easy to do business with.

Aurora Launch doesn’t ask the applicant for the loan amount they are seeking. Instead, we run a soft credit inquiry and then provide the member with the amount they are pre-approved for, avoiding a denial or negative experience. Users can then select the loan amount they have been pre-approved for and the term of the loan based on lowest interest rate or lowest payment amount to best fit their financial wellness needs.

Similar to an Amazon experience, we provide account cross-sell and upsell opportunities for additional account types and loans, refinancing, and products such as GAP insurance or mechanical repair based on the credit union’s customizations. With Aurora Launch, the credit union finds peace of mind knowing all new accounts and offers are presented based on the credit union’s credit policy.

Aurora Launch makes this simple on the front end, and we deliver it to the credit union with intelligent workflows and processes meeting regulatory requirements on the back-end. It encompasses a seamless full-circle digital solution (opening to funding to document storage) that is built for adaptation as your credit union’s strategy changes, yet also delivers on account growth and retention of engaged digital members.





Describe your innovation.

Tim Pranger, VP of Product & Strategy, Eltropy

Tim Pranger: In June of 2022, Eltropy acquired video banking leader POPi/o. Reinforced by POPi/o’s video banking and contact center technology, Eltropy now offers community financial institutions the industry’s only complete digital conversations platform — for automated, AI-driven text messaging, video banking, secure chat, co-browsing, screen sharing, and chatbot conversations with customers and members.

What opportunity or challenge does it address?

TP: Fraud prevention, among other challenges. While financial crime has been around since the dawn of time, a recent rise in the prevalence of sophisticated financial fraud is hitting the industry hard. Credit unions have increasingly become a top target for fraudsters due to the amount of personal information they require from their members, including Social Security numbers, home addresses, and more. Without all the resources of the mega banks, what’s a small credit union or community bank to do?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) — the login technology that requires users to prove who they are from more than just a username and password — began rolling out widely to banks in the 2000s. Like most technologies, MFA (formerly “two-factor authentication”) took time to catch on. Now, it is the standard, trusted method to protect against increasingly sophisticated threats.

But the traditional methods of MFA are not enough anymore. Enter Eltropy. Using modern, secure authentication tools — including text, video calling, and real-time photo ID verification — from Eltropy’s digital conversations platform, community financial institutions can not only stay ahead of fraudsters but also easily help their members access their accounts, safely, and know who is reaching out to them.

How does it increase member value?

TP: Eltropy’s powerful digital conversations platform arms credit unions with end-to-end virtual branch capabilities. Not only does this help credit unions save time and money (especially important during the current looming recession), but it also helps them build connections and deliver on the personalized service their consumers expect. Once these capabilities have been integrated, credit unions can use Eltropy to seamlessly connect consumers with staff at any of their branches — from opening an account, to originating loans, or getting instant service.

What differentiates this innovation from competitors?

TP: Eltropy is the industry’s only digital conversations platform with enterprise-wise capabilities to help all departments and aspects of a credit union, including its contact center, collections, lending, marketing, compliance, and other areas.




Describe your innovation.

Colleen Wilson, VP of Product, MANTL

Colleen Wilson: MANTL launched MANTL for Credit Unions — an omnichannel deposit origination platform that is purpose-built for credit unions with the member experience in mind — in August 2022. MANTL developed this solution from the ground up to meet the growing demand in the credit union market for automated, omnichannel account origination technology that will empower quick and efficient growth while maintaining and improving the white-glove member experience that credit unions are renowned for.

MANTL for Credit Unions provides omnichannel consumer and business deposit origination platforms that automate up to 97% of application decisions to help credit unions grow their member base and scale efficiently. With MANTL for Credit Unions, consumers and businesses can efficiently open accounts online, in-branch, or in the field while staff retains full visibility into their progress. The Consumer Deposit Origination solution empowers new applicants to originate checking, savings, CD money market, and minor accounts in under three minutes, and existing members can open a new share account in just one click. The Business Deposit Origination solution customizes workflows for businesses of all sizes and complexities, and employees can request information from business owners and authorized signers at any point in the process — online, in-branch or on the go.

Key features of MANTL for Credit Unions include:

  • Omnichannel account. Members can start an application in one channel and finish it in another — online, in-branch, in a call center, or in the field — for a flexible and seamless member experience.
  • A 100% digital solution with automated smart.  MANTL automates more than 90% of application decisions — including KYC, AML, BSA, product service ordering, funding, and core booking — to create efficiencies and keep manual processes to a minimum.
  • Dynamic eligibility. MANTL uses intelligent automation to collect and verify only the information needed to determine eligibility, removing friction from the process.
  • Best-in-class fraud.  Leverage sophisticated risk modeling based on 30+ data sources to verify members and prevent fraud.
  • Automated engagement. Enrich interactions and deepen member engagement with a fully automated cross-sell engine, remarketing system, and adverse action notice program.
  • Reports and analytics on demand. The MANTL console aggregates member data to highlight which marketing channels drive conversions to maximize members. With our data API, credit unions gain total flexibility in how and when they access data — so they can run the analysis in any preferred system.

What opportunity or challenge does it address?

CW: MANTL for Credit Unions solves the challenge of seamless, quick, and fast digital onboarding for new members. It also solves for member growth, member experience, increased operational efficiency, and better fraud protection.

How does it increase member value?

CW: MANTL for Credit Unions provides credit unions with a digital savvy and intuitive “digital front door” that optimizes three key aspects of the member experience at the point of origination: speed, simplicity, and security.

  • Speed. MANTL enables members to easily start and finish an application in one sitting, and a consumer can open an account in as little as three minutes. If a member must pause the application for any reason, MANTL allows the member to resume the application in a different channel without having to start over, expediting the process. MANTL also instantly funds member accounts, ensuring the member can begin using the account as soon as it is opened.
  • Simplicity. MANTL makes the eligibility verification process as intuitive and streamlined as possible. MANTL’s dynamic eligibility verification uses intelligent automation to collect and verify only the information needed to determine eligibility, removing friction from the process.
  • Security. MANTL ensures member safety by fighting fraud with best-in-class data MANTL leverages sophisticated risk modeling based on 30+ data sources to verify members and prevent fraud.

MANTL for Credit Unions helps improve and deepen existing member experiences by making it simple and intuitive for members to open additional accounts with a credit union. Instead of having to re-enter information, MANTL automates the process so members can open additional accounts in just a few clicks.

What differentiates this innovation from competitors?

CW: MANTL provides a fully omnichannel account origination experience — which is vastly different from the multichannel account origination solutions on the market today.

A multichannel account opening will not allow an institution to scale long-term. Rather than treating the channels as siloed customer journeys, they must work together to create a scalable omnichannel experience that meets customers wherever they are. Creating a seamless experience with real-time synchronization between the banker and member is critical to providing a service that will grow customer satisfaction and lifetime value. MANTL for Credit Unions is a true omnichannel platform.

MANTL partnered with Alliant Credit Union, a $18 billion digital financial institution, to create MANTL for Credit Unions from the ground up. With the MANTL platform, Alliant Credit Union is seeing immediate results over its previous solution:

  • Improved application conversion rates by 60% over its previous online deposit origination solution.
  • Funded 100% of accounts upon application.
  • Reduced the time to open an account by more than 30%; existing members can open additional accounts in just a few




Describe your innovation.

Jami Jennings, VP of Product Marketing Strategy, VisiFI

Jami Jennings: A digital lending app designed for members, VisiFI folded in AI, behavioral science, and creative lending techniques to create a workflow and atmosphere that brings loans into the credit union by speaking to members in their language. Studies show members want their FI to assist them with their financial decisions, and our workflow makes it easy and enjoyable!

When members apply for a loan, we use conversational language — such as “Let’s Find The Right Loan for You” — and provide examples of loans such as car repairs, books for the semester, and more. This immediately educates the member that the FI can support any type of loan to fit their needs. When they select a loan, an image of what the loan is for is displayed in the background (for example, medical bills and picture of nurse with heart hands) and the member’s brain begins to tap into its “happy center” because the brain’s subconscious knows the goal of the member.

Then, we don’t just pull credit, we analyze the opportunity using a series of algorithms and data and offer the member options such as “Borrow Against Yourself or Borrow Against Us,” “Best Rate vs. Lowest Payment,” pros and cons for each option (including savings), and more!

The layout makes it simple and easy to follow and brings the member joy with language such as “Good Choice,” “You Did Good Today,” etc. The app itself is integrated with JD Power to perform car evaluations and display the actual features of the car if you are doing an auto-loan and integration with ID Analyzer so members can scan their license to populate the application and more. Our application encourages laziness by having cool features where members can apply for a loan within minutes. The back-end “in-branch” system is even cooler with automations and workflows to make underwriting and closing a loan seamless and frictionless.

What opportunity or challenge does it address?

JJ: This product will bring loans back to the credit union. Members are not going into the branch to discuss loan options, instead, they’re relying on the Digital Banking application to assist them. This lending workflow will drive more loans to the credit union because it speaks the language of the member and educates them on the types of loans a credit union offers. Members do not realize that microloans or buy now, pay later loans are just small unsecured loans. Now, when they are in Digital Banking, the AI technology assists members with their financial needs by offering different options and scenarios for their financial future while educating them on what is available.

How does it increase member value?

JJ: Studies show nine out of 10 Americans use at least one fintech app for their banking needs, and 48% of them said the app made them feel in control of their finances in 2022. The reason many fintechs become dragons or unicorns in the market is because they speak the language of the member and use innovative technology to make the experience enjoyable.

Our mission was to develop a digital lending application that would bring loans back into the credit union while linking it to the digital banking application and core system, making it seamless and easy-to-use. We leveraged our expertise in data and behavioral science to design a member-centric, customized workflow based specifically on members’ behaviors, qualifications, and specific opportunities.

For example, if the member wants a $2,000 loan for new tires on their truck and we see they have $2,000 in a savings account or a CD, we will offer the option to borrow against themselves with a lower rate and show them the cost savings if they do (for example, save $54.16 by choosing this option but it will freeze the funds for 24 months). We took what loan officers are doing in the branch and used data and AI to provide the best possible solutions to fit the members’ needs and let them know that they have options! We created a digital “in-branch” experience that provides facts and options to members while teaching them that the credit union can always help with their financial needs … and they can do it while in the drive through at Chick-Fil-A!

What differentiates this innovation from competitors?

JJ: Our lending application provides a human experience with the advantages of AI and technology, programmatically providing the best financial options for the member. We incorporated the workflows and processes that a loan officer would consider and automated it programmatically.

For example, if a member wanted to go to Disney World and needed a $5,000 loan, the loan officer would research the member’s account and explore all of the options before sharing it with the member. Can the member borrow against themselves at a lower rate? What is the sum total of deposit accounts linked to the members SSN/EIN? What is the goal of the member — lowest rate versus lowest payment? How fast does the member need the funds? Do they need cash on hand?

These are some of the algorithms we automated within the workflow to provide the same service and experience the member would have received if sitting across the desk from a loan officer. By using the technology, the algorithms are able to make decisions in seconds and provide options to the members with a few clicks.

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, please contact the Callahan team at or 1-800-446-7453.
February 13, 2023

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