Credit unions are recognised for their role in returning profits to members and communities, but not necessarily for being at the cutting edge of business. Credit Union Australia, or CUA, is not a typical credit union. It has grown steadily and turned itself into a hub of innovation.


One key reason – customers (or members as credit unions call them) are now seeking far more than just transactions from their payment services, says CUA Head of Payments Matthew Lobdell.

As CUA plans the launch of a brand new mobile app later this year, Lobdell says one of the most significant trends in payments is the migration of CUA member payments from what he calls “destination channels”, such as ATMs, branches or desktop PCs, to more mobile solutions, such as mobile banking or e-wallets.

The other significant trend, according to Lobdell is customers moving beyond payments as just “a hygiene element”.

“They’re looking for more than just a safe, secure payment experience; they’re actually wanting that richer data with some degree of potential advice or additional information that helps them manage their life a little bit better, either before the transaction or after the transaction,” he says.

CUA is tapping into these trends.

CUA’s Apple Pay and Android Pay offerings let users quickly check their account balances before they transact and provide instant confirmation that the transaction has taken place. CUA will also eventually incorporate loyalty schemes into their e-wallets, although Lobdell says there are other more immediate priorities.

One of these is the launch of a new mobile banking app later this year. Among other things, CUA is looking to incorporate virtual card replacement capability, which will allow users to continue using a virtual version of their credit card via an e-wallet even after they have cancelled the physical card due to loss or theft. It means members don’t have to go without payments capabilities for several days while they await a new card.

Lobdell says CUA expects to be able to offer its members the New Payments Platform’s (NPP) core instant payment capability when it becomes available later this year. It will follow soon after with the request to pay capability.
Because we’re not the size of a large bank, certainly, we believe that we have the ability to make decisions and then act on those decisions more quickly.

Leapfrogging existing solutions

CUA, short for Credit Union Australia, has grown through merging with around 160 credit unions over the past 70 years, with the earliest foundation credit union being established in 1946. It has more than 440,000 members, who are nearly all retail customers.

As such, it is planning a marketing and education campaign to help its members use and understand the benefits of digital banking, including its new mobile banking platform, mobile wallets and the NPP.

“Taking our members through the journey of becoming digitally confident with mobile payments is a key element of our platform, to help them understand it, to show them how they can use the devices and the tools that we’ve got available to give them a better outcome,” Lobdell says.

Being only a fraction of the size of the big four banks comes with some advantages, namely agility in deploying innovation.

“Because we’re not the size of a large bank, certainly, we believe that we have the ability to make decisions and then act on those decisions more quickly. We’d like to think that’s part of our DNA. Certainly, that’s the way we’ve been trying to mobilize a more rapid approach within CUA,” he says.

The credit union has changed its IT development approach from the traditional top-down “waterfall” style to an Agile approach.

CUA has a dedicated in-house innovation capability as well as what it calls a “transform” team, which focusses on activities that go beyond business as usual, “developing solutions that will leapfrog our existing solutions”.

While there is a lot of talk in financial services and banking about the potential for external disruptors, Lobdell is more focussed on CUA’s own offering and “reducing any clunky member experiences” and pain points.

“From our perspective, we are trying to deliver the services that our members will value and delivering those in an effective way and in a timely way,” he says. “That’s probably the bigger priority for us than then trying to look at the disruptor model.”
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