How To Build Core Systems That Accommodate The Modern Member

A standardized set of specifications for the credit union industry will make product and service integration easier and less expensive.

 
 

The employees of San Diego County originally chartered what is now San Diego County Credit Union ($6.3B, San Diego, CA) in 1938 to provide for the financial needs of local county government employees. SDCCU expanded its membership in the 1970s to include all San Diegans and today is open to everyone living or working in San Diego, Riverside, or Orange counties. SDCCU is the city's largest locally owned financial institution, serving nearly 248,000 members through a 32-branch network. The credit union has been voted Best Credit Union 13 years in a row by the U-T San Diego Readers Poll. The credit union has also been voted Best Mortgage Home Lender, Best Financial Planner, and Best Place to Work multiple times.

Executive vice president of information technology, Heather Moshier, has been with the credit union since 1995.

The modern credit union member expects simple account openings, user-friendly mobile banking, and easy-to-navigate loan applications. To meet the needs of this member, credit unions must rely on core systems that can quickly integrate with new and progressive technologies. Unfortunately, until recently, credit unions operated under an inefficient system integrations process that had varying standards for core systems and ancillary products. When systems can’t communicate, it is costly and time consuming, and, ultimately, the member loses out.

The Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX) was founded in 2011 to address this glaring inefficiency. Essentially, CUFX develops vender-agnostic standards for the credit union industry with the goal of making product and service integration easier and less expensive. The collaboration benefits cores, vendors, and credit unions by reducing the cost, complexity, and time required for software integration.

I was chair of the CUNA Technology Council in 2011 when CUFX presented at a committee meeting. I thought, “Wow, the industry really needs this.” When I thought about how much a standardized set of specifications would benefit my credit union, San Diego County Credit Union, I decided to get involved.

I am now on the CUFX steering committee, which includes representation from Spokane Teachers Credit Union ($1.8B; Spokane, WA), Virginia Credit Union ($2.5B; Richmond, VA), Wescom Credit Union ($2.5B; Pasadena, CA), CommunityAmerica Credit Union ($1.9B; Kansas City, MO) and Finivation Software.

In the past, getting everyone to agree has been difficult, but through several rounds of meetings and some back and forth, everyone is getting on board with the standards set by CUFX. In addition to the steering committee, CUFX created the core advisory committee, which has representation from all the major core providers. They serve as liaisons, communicating back to their core processor with status updates and next steps. Several of the cores are active members of our working groups and are integral to our roadmap, timeline, and goals.

The main goal for CUFX is to get everyone on the same page. Success looks like one set of standards for applications so any credit union can integrate with its core system. With set standards, we won’t need custom interfaces, nor will we waste time on integration. We will be able to roll out a new product within a few weeks if necessary.

Today, personal finance management and new member account specifications are out and we’re in the process of releasing mobile and online banking specs. The vendors are on board and now we are turning our focus to gaining more credit union adoption. It is imperative that we gain more industry adoption.

CUFX emulates the cooperative values of the credit union movement. Standards foster collaboration and cooperation. Credit unions and top vendors are coming together to develop standards, it’s a huge collaborative effort. And the more we speak about it, the more the word gets out and people get excited about the future. We’ve had more than 200 people, representing more than 60 credit unions, cores, and third party vendors involved in a working group at one time or another.

The published standards are online at CUFXstandards.com. We also have more information about the effort and a high-level video explaining how our specifications will benefit the industry.

If your credit union is looking for a new online banking system or a new member accounts system, put CUFX specifications in your RFP. Also, if you're looking to integrate a mobile or online banking application within the next year, ask your vendor if they support CUFX. If they do, they will eventually be able to quickly integrate back to the core system. If they do not, it's going to take linger for integration and you might want to look for a different vendor.

It's easy to get involved in a working group! Register and find out more information at CUFXstandards.com.