Article

Crossing the Bridge from Physical to Digital Community

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Jessica Fongemie Photo
Director of Communication
DaLand LLC

3 minutes

SIU Credit Union leverages DaLand CUSO’s partnership and products to go beyond legacy banking.

2022—the year of the credit union renaissance for community and commerce.

How will you remain relevant in the era of money becoming digital and part of the internet, and as community continues to be defined as digital and non-geographical via the influence of big tech products and philosophies? Are you prepared to be a leader in our industry and spotlight your institution as the connective tissue between community and commerce? Is your operation plugged into a perpetual process of strengthening your network of community?

With these increasingly clear and imminent demands of the future, it’s important to take time and give yourself space to truly contemplate what that future of community and commerce looks like for your credit union—now more than ever!

Community-based financial institutions like credit unions have a real opportunity to thrive where virtual communities and digital economies meet. $443 million SIU Credit Union is a great example of a credit union leveraging strategy, operations and digital tools to promote financial literacy and help its community flourish.

Starting with a Strategy for Relevance

Based in Carbondale, Illinois, SIU CU serves 24 counties in southern Illinois with six traditional branches.  SIU CU began its digital journey by first partnering with DaLand on the shift to becoming a data business alongside a financial services business through understanding the credit union's strategic trajectory and making the operational changes necessary to support that transformation. These changes were essential to supporting the credit union’s strategic mission to better serve members—including the underserved—throughout rural Illinois!

“With the help of DaLand,” explains Erica Pankey, VP/operations, “we have operations and kiosk technology that can do just about every transaction that my tellers can do—deposits, withdrawals, cash checks, stop checks and ACH, instant issue cards, print statements.”
 
However, SIU CU’s strategy isn’t restricted to branch kiosks or inundated by the need to replace platforms or add staff.

“There are counties without an ATM (in our service area),” Pankey observes, “counties where the banks are leaving. We don’t need to invest in brick and mortar. We’re looking to put kiosks in police stations, libraries, city halls,” in addition to having them in SIU CU branches.

“Our low-income and CDFI (community development financial institution) designations create expectations” that we will be lending to underserved people,” Pankey continues. “Now these customers have a place to apply and access their accounts.”

SIU CU’s self-service, contactless, and digital engagement to community are the result of a modern, efficient strategy supplanting the legacy tactics of both the brick-and-mortar and electronic banking eras. “In these rural communities, the ‘legacy platform’ is a branch,” observes Pankey. Instead, SIU CU is investing in partnership and tools to support transformation of their operations for the digital era where data is money, figuratively and literally, community is digital, and relevance is local institutions stewarding their communities in the digital space.

By transforming its operation to support this strategy and implementing DaLand’s C.O.D.E. Engine, SIU CU is investing directly in communities where it can reach underserved consumers, bridging the divide between physical, electronic and digital community. Crossing this bridge into digital community ensures Southern Illinois’ consumers will have at their fingertips a digital ecosphere committed to local economic health.

The C.O.D.E. Engine

DaLand’s C.O.D.E. Engine, standing for core-optimized digital experience—provides institutions like SIU CU the digital tools needed to position themselves at the epicenter of the credit union renaissance. Purpose-built for this moment in history, the innovation sets extended from the C.O.D.E. Engine are designed to support the essential and existential shift to data-based and digitally defined community, ensuring that credit unions can continuously strengthen their ecosphere as the nexus of modern community and commerce.

“We used to run programs for a given month, Pankey adds. “Car loans, for example. Now, with such tight integration in our core (Corelation’s Keystone), we maintain our best rate and offer what each member needs, when they need it.”

Pankey muses that SIU CU’s member knowledge may seem creepy at first, but she makes the case that relentless product pitches that fail to consider actual member needs are the anthesis of the credit union difference.

This quality of insight is only made possible through breaking the vicious cycle of the platform paradigm—the idea that the next new app or technology will be a magical tool that, when bolted onto a CU’s core, will solve everything. Rather than continuing to tack on platform after platform, which silos important data and creates operational and financial inefficiencies, credit unions can transform their operations using the core they have already invested in to extend value-added services to members—not through a separate vendor platform but through digital tools that extend the core system to interact with membership, such as what SIU CU is doing with the C.O.D.E. Engine.

Appointment scheduling and lobby tracking are additional examples of how SIU CU has partnered with DaLand to extend the power of core data to its communities and modernize the member experience. Unlike most clunky bolt-on platforms, SIU CU’s core-integrated appointment scheduler, made possible by the C.O.D.E. Engine, allows for same-day appointments with as little as 30 minutes’ notice. Built by extending the core system just like the credit union’s self-service kiosk experience was, the appointment scheduler and lobby tracker provide data insights previously lost to history.

“These tools record your interactions in our core,” Pankey explains. “I can see when you visit a branch, what the issues were, who you talked with and whether the issues were escalated.”  

Ultimately, as DaLand and SIU CU continue to partner on this journey of optimizing operations for the digital age, the credit union will be able to expand its community engagement by continuing to construct a bridge that crosses from legacy core processing to modern digital consumer interactions—a feat that will weave SIU CU more deeply into its members’ lives and empower the credit union to adapt to marketplace dynamics and developments.

Jessica Fongemie is director of communication at DaLand LLC, the next-gen credit union service organization and financial institution partner singularly focused on contributing to the relevance of community financial institution partners. She believes local financial institutions can contribute to the flourishing of democracy and quality of community life by ensuring fair and affordable access to capital and modern banking services. DaLand CUSO’s products are purpose-built to promote data-focused strategies, operational transformation and technological tools to keep local banking collaborators at the epicenter of digital communities and modern commerce.

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