Chaguanas, Trinidad – June 4, 2021: The Central Finance Facility (CFF) and more than forty leaders and managers of its member credit unions met and strategized the pursuit of FinTech initiatives to enhance service to credit union members and increase credit union market share.
These discussions were enabled at a CFF hosted Virtual Thought Leadership on May 28, 2021, entitled ‘Financial Technology – Creating a Winning FinTech strategy in the Local Environment.
Forty-four (44) attendees from nine (9) local credit unions participated in this event which was held via Zoom from 9:30 am to 12:00 p.m. One of the most significant developments coming out of the pandemic is the use of technology in business operations. This virtual Thought Leadership was aimed at exposing Credit Union leaders to the world of FinTech and how FinTech solutions can be used to improve and advance the cooperative financial sector in service delivery and financial activities.
Ms. Letitia Telesford, President of the CFF, in her opening remarks reminded participants of the sudden explosion in the FinTech revolution due to Covid-19. She emphasized that FinTech is now the engine driving the global financial sector into a new dimension. Ms. Telesford also highlighted the goal of the new CFF initiative Project 2020 – Technology Committee being to foster innovation and access to financial technology for member credit unions.
The Virtual Thought Leadership featured expert presenters in the field of Financial Management and AI Technology. Dr Michelle Salandy, Manager, Financial Management Services, Trinidad and Tobago IFC gave valuable insight into their organisation’s goal to develop digital financial services across all sectors in TT, improving service delivery for citizens and the ease of doing business, particularly the development of a “cashless” financial technologies to reduce dependence on cash payment options. She indicated that TTIFC is a “Resourceful Ally” to its stakeholders, providing an advisory and supporting role for organisations seeking to adopt digital financial technologies.
Dr. Salandy urged Credit Unions in attendance to join FinTechTT to foster collaboration among financial entities and promote best practices in financial system. She described FinTech to include all technological innovations that drive financial service delivery: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Distributed ledger Technology, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Cloud Computing, and Smart Phones.
She added that: Due to the pandemic, consumer demand is now skewed towards digitally-available services – mobile and online banking, mobile wallets, chatbots, etc. Demand for 24/7 financial services without having to conduct transactions in person.
FinTech also enhances security – alternative payments reduce dependency on cash, banking alerts, biometric authentication (voice or fingerprint login as opposed to passwords only). Lower cost delivery channels make services more accessible and can increase membership.
FinTech reduces cost of financial services – automate tasks, reduce processing fees, reduce printing/mailing costs and allow Credit Unions to diversify – increase customer reach, employment (IT sector), promote financial inclusion especially in remote/underserved areas.
The second presenter Mr. Karan Kashyap, POSH Technologies stated that FinTech is deliberate and requires a strategy. For Credit Unions, FinTech has the potential to overcome constraints – physical (geographic, disability), temporal (“open” hours, processing time), financial (credit, financing) and societal constraints (security).
Mr. Kashyap highlighted the use of conversational AI to enhance digital experience in scheduling appointments, answering questions, user journey mapping member service after hours services.
He noted that while conventional banks often have large pools of readily available data on their clients, he encouraged that this can also be achieved in Credit Union movement through collaboration and pooling data from various Credit Unions. There is benefit in cooperating and sharing information.
CFF SAC Member, Project 2020 – Technology Committee, Mr. Joel Edwards presented on the work of the Project 2020 Technology Committee, whose goal is to provide a solution for Credit Unions to allow members to get into the national payments system; accessing money from Credit Unions accounts for transactions; bill payments through cashless payments and mobile wallet payments.
FinTech integration is key to enhancing member experience. It can create new opportunities instead of posing a threat to traditional finance. As resounded by the CFF President as well as the esteemed presenters, ‘Cooperation among Cooperatives’ should continue to be the guiding principle in order for the advancement of FinTech within the Credit Union movement. “Individually we are great, but together we can be so, so, so much better” – Collaborative partnerships are definitely a win-win.
The CFF’s goal is to enable a fifteen percent increase in market share by the Credit Union Movement by the year 2030.