Preparing for the Rise of Cryptocurrency

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By Scott P. Young

3 minutes

Inform your credit union’s strategy by learning about digital currency and how members are using it.

Cryptocurrency has captured the industry’s attention more in the last year than any other payments topic. Recently, the digital asset has experienced an explosion of growth. In fact, on any given day, the market cap of cryptocurrency is somewhere between $2 to $3 trillion, a level which took fintechs a decade and credit unions more than 100 years to reach.

While we aren’t seeing cryptocurrency as a popular payments option just yet, consumers are already looking to get involved, if they haven’t already. According to data from PSCU’s most recent Eye on Payments study, one in three overall respondents report they would be interested in learning more about cryptocurrency, with nearly a quarter of credit union members (24%) saying they are already active.

Credit unions have historically held back from any involvement with cryptocurrency, but the landscape is rapidly changing—making it the optimal time for credit unions to educate themselves, asses the pros and cons and develop a strategy. While the National Credit Union Administration does not currently allow credit unions to hold the value of cryptocurrency within their federally insured deposits, it recently announced that credit unions can partner with third-party cryptocurrency service providers to allow their members to buy, sell and hold digital assets under certain terms.

It's Time to Learn about Cryptocurrency—and How Members Are Using It

When it comes to cryptocurrency and credit unions, there is far more interest than understanding. And, with digital assets already making such a mark on the payments landscape and expected to continue growing, credit unions should proactively be learning and strategically planning for this emerging payments option and all that comes with it. That is why PSCU recently launched a new cryptocurrency microsite, targeted and specifically curated for credit unions, to serve as a continuously updated hub for information and educational resources on all things related to digital assets. The goal of PSCU’s new educational microsite is to help credit unions learn more and to be prepared as member interest in cryptocurrency and other digital assets continues to grow and the landscape evolves. Credit unions should be using tools such as these to learn about cryptocurrency as it has the potential for significant impact on the payments landscape in the near future.

In addition to learning about cryptocurrency and related trends as a whole, credit unions can start to better understand how members are participating in cryptocurrency by mining ACH and debit data to track deposits going from their credit union accounts to exchanges. Also, start talking to members to find out what where their interest lies in this space. Do they want their credit union to get into cryptocurrency? How should members get involved if they are interested? What do members need to know about cryptocurrency and its risks? Take a pulse of your members and find out where they stand on these digital assets to best chart your course of action.

With the proper preparation, credit unions will be able to evaluate the associated risks and make informed decisions on their strategies surrounding digital assets. Now is the time for credit unions to educate themselves, as well as their staff and their members, on this rapidly evolving payments technology.

Scott P. Young oversees the innovation, design and integration teams at CUESolutions provider PSCU, St. Petersburg, Florida. With over 25 years of experience in payments, Young started his career at First Data in Omaha before moving to Pentagon Federal Credit Union and, more recently, Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union. He joined PSCU in late 2019. A passionate advocate for the credit union movement, Young is also a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at PSCU and across the industry. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska.

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