A Dissection Of The Core Processing Marketplace

Fiserv and Symitar continue to dominate, but a plethora of possibilities present choices to credit unions when it comes time to convert or commit.


Top-Level Takeaways

  • Credit union consolidation has been accompanied by core processor consolidation but there are still dozens of choices.
  • Core processors Fiserv and Symitar continue to dominate among the largest credit unions while FedComp is still the leader in client count among the movement’s smallest members.

Choosing the right core processor is critical to the success of credit unions large and small, whether they choose a single provider for all their processing and delivery needs, or select multiple vendors to fit different needs.

And just as there’s a plethora of providers, there are multiple options to choose from among the playing field of core providers themselves. The core system is typically the credit union’s largest expenditure behind only people, and it’s important to play the field. 

Here are three best practices in that regard:

  1. Analyze core processors that have clients similar to your credit union; check for gains made in relevant performance categories.
  2. Reach out to peers using a core in which you are interested to solicit an unbiased testimonial of the user experience.
  3. Develop core conversion guidelines, vendor management policies, and vendor risk-rating worksheets to make a smart decision and help ensure a smooth transition.

There’s been significant consolidation in the core processor space over the years, but there are still multiple choices. In fact, there are 29 different core processors offering 43 different platforms — and that’s just among competitors serving at least $400 million in aggregated assets.

That said, there are clear leaders in the core provider marketplace. Fiserv and Symitar had a combined market share of 43.0% as of mid-2018. Fiserv alone served 31.7% of the credit union industry.

With 131 clients of more than $1 billion in assets running on the Episys solution, Symitar has the edge in large credit unions. Across the industry, Episys is the most commonly used platform. It’s 655 credit union total includes credit unions using third-party Symitar providers Member Driven Technologies (90) and Synergent (65). 



Next up is small credit union specialist FedComp, which serves 597 credit unions.

But in sheer number of clients, Fiserv dominates, with 1,775 of the nation’s 5,551 credit unions running on the fintech giant’s various cores as of mid-year 2018. Two of those — Portico and CUSA — were third and fourth on the list, at 328 and 290 credit unions, respectively.

The distribution of client adoption among providers varies through the asset bands tracked by Callahan & Associates. For example, in the $50 million to $250 million group, significant market share remains in the hands of CU*Answers (92), CMC-FLEX (90) and Finastra (70).

As size begins to increase, Finastra — owner of the UltraData platform — gains more traction, moving into third behind Fiserv and Symitar with 40 credit union clients between $250 million and $1 billion in assets.

It’s also interesting to look at year-over-year net gains in client numbers. There were 10 that showed a net positive from the second quarter of 2017 to 2018. Most of the gains were small, with Corelationclaiming the top spot there with a net gain of 6. 

Properly choosing and effectively partnering with the right core processor can allow credit unions to respond to a changing marketplace with product and service enhancements, all while controlling expenses.

That’s true regardless of size, as shown in the table that compares performance by asset size.

Callahan’s annual Supplier Market Share Guide: Credit Union Core Processors offers an in-depth examination of the core processor market. Download the 2019 edition today.

Click the tabs below to view graphs.

This article initially appeared in Credit Union Times in February 2019.

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March 1, 2019


  • Thank you for the information, but market share along is not enough. Fiserv and Symitar have great products, but have those products kept pace? If you were a larger asset size credit union looking for a core provider about 5 years ago, the only choice was Symitar. OSI was having issues with cash flow problems and Fiserv was trying to bring Acumen to the table, and we know what happened there. Fiserv scrapped Acumen and purchased OSI. So Symitar was the only player, but it was and still is a legacy design with a proprietary database (which they are trying to change now). So a new provider like Corelation with their Keystone product is a refreshing alternative (for large asset size CU's) even though they are a small company. A core designed on industry standard tools is much easier to support and find people with skills to customize, making that a better choice in the long run. Just my observation from a former 30+ Fiserv Spectrum user.
  • Thank you for your insights. It’s always helpful to hear from others!
    Maya Neuman