May 21, 2012
By Aaron Pugh
CoVantage Credit Union ($1.0B, Antigo, WI) is no slouch when it comes to technological prowess. The credit union currently offers its nearly 75,000 members a robust suite of services designed to meet their needs at home, in the branch, and on-the-go.
But rather than bask in the success it has achieved, the credit union continues to strategically position itself for success, particularly in regards to payment technology. In the following interview, Robert Van Abel, senior vice president and chief information officer, highlights a few of CoVantage’s recent undertakings and explains the credit union’s philosophy toward technology adoption.
What does CoVantage currently offer its members for online and mobile service, and what is on the horizon?
Robert Van Abel: Today CoVantage offers multiple Internet and mobile services including transaction alerts, account transfers, online loan payments, and cross-account transfers between unrelated member accounts. In addition, we have a business banking platform with QuickBooks integration for business members and Quicken downloads for our retail members.
Within the next 30 days, our mobile services will include mobile remote deposit capture and bill pay services that are integrated into the same bill pay as our Internet platform. We are also working on an electronic wallet project pilot for our mobile services that will utilize the Tyfone “Side-Tap” micro SD card for Near Field Communication (NFC) and full contactless Europay-Mastercard-Visa (EMV) transaction processing.
What factors inside and outside the institution caused CoVantage to move in the direction of a mobile wallet?
RVA: The nature of payments is entering a period of rapid change, with disruptive technology impacting traditional payment channels like debit, pre-loaded cards, checks, and cash. Mobile banking provides a secure channel, as authentication is possible on the device, and when coupled with contactless EMV or person-to-person payments, enables a complete electronic payment channel with usability similar to one’s wallet.
It’s important for any electronic wallet to be as portable and easy-to-use as a physical wallet. In addition, with layered transaction security, the ability to do remote data wipe on the phone, and encrypted transmission, this channel has vastly improved security over a physical wallet if it’s lost.
What drew the credit union to this particular mobile wallet solution, and when will you roll it out?
RVA: This project is really in the conception phase as we work with Tyfone and FIS, but we hope to have a pilot working by early 2013. It will build on our CoVantage Online Internet platform, which allows members to transfer funds via online or mobile across accounts when both accounts are at the credit union.
What can you tell me about the development process?
RVA: While searching for mobile banking vendors in 2011, one of our criteria was the ability to support mobile payments, including Peer-to-Peer (P2P). Tyfone was the only mobile banking vendor that had a strategy in place.
This vendor also had an existing mobile banking application for the Fiserv core systems and agreed to work with CoVantage to develop mobile banking that was integrated with our Jack Henry/Symitar core. We have been live for four weeks on this application, with roughly 40 members registering daily over the last three weeks. This adoption is much greater than our experience with Internet banking in CoVantage Online.
What future features will the mobile wallet offer, and when will they be rolled out?
RVA: The mobile wallet will include contactless NFC support, mobile remote deposit capture, and bill pay features. We are looking to this year to rollout many of these features, depending on FIS’s ability to support these transactions. The initial pilot will take place with a select group of staff and members.
Our plan for the wallet is to function similar to our “Load N’ Go” debit card, which would allow members to add money anytime, but have payment amounts limited to the funds loaded in the wallet. Transactions will also utilize EMV standard debit processing.
Would you consider your technology adoption strategy to be bleeding edge, or would you consider yourself an early adopter or fast follower?
RVA: These efforts are definitely bleeding edge for the credit union industry, but probably only leading edge when banks are included. We continue to work with our payment vendor, FIS, to keep the pilot on track and while they have some interest from larger customers, there are few to no additional credit unions working on these solutions today.
This article is an excerpt from a larger Q&A with CoVantage Credit Union, and is featured in its entirety in the upcoming 1Q 2012 issue of Technology@CU.
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