Credit Unions must bridge the gap between Financial Services and Emerging Technology

In 2020, digital channels have become the preferred way to interact with financial organizations—73% of U.S. adults report being more likely to use digital financial services during the COVID-19 pandemic and there has been a 50% increase in the use of mobile banking apps from 2019.

Given that COVID-19 does not differentiate, its impact is expected to be the same for Trinidad and Tobago, particularly as it relates to our credit union members’ responsiveness to doing business with us in the future. Despite the love, they would require the security of transacting with us by employing social distancing.

With this in mind, Credit Unions (CUs) will need to keep up with and meet members’ expectations for digital financial services, more so now, in order to remain competitive and relevant in today’s financial world.

Critical to keeping up with technological innovation and justification as part of one’s strategic business plan, the following should be considered:

  • Identifying technology table-stakes and trade-offs in regard to financial services competitors
  • Studying consumer uses of and trust in new and novel financial technologies
  • Documenting future trends in automation, AI(Artificial Intelligence) and member experiences with an aim to understand how core financial products are being reinvented for self-service delivery
  • Exploring issues such as the future of identity authentication

CU Digital Transformation

All in all, a lot of the challenges being faced by the CU movement, especially during the COVID-19 era, may be alleviated by the implementation of strong digital initiatives. Key here would be providing employees with the best technology and tools needed to do their best work while making the interfaces user-friendly for existing and perspective members.


One of the important outcomes, especially when taking into account ‘the new normal’ would be the decline of in branch traffic while increasing member expectations.

Other than this, there would be an important piece of the bridge in the gap in meeting consumer demands while keeping up with today’s pace of innovation. These would foster the movement’s increasing competitiveness in the financial sector, making CUs a more viable option.

 What Comes First?

Often, digital transformation begins with the adoption of digital workplaces, where collaboration and teamwork are facilitated by technology rather than by a physical location. By investing in digital workplaces that connect employees and subject matter experts across departments and geographies, companies can provide:

  • Greater alignment between teams, resulting in faster and more accurate customer service
  • The ability for teams to automate administrative tasks and customize workflows, freeing them up to tackle more complex and challenging work
  • Speedier escalation and resolution for critical incidents
  • Broader organizational transparency

The Vision

Digital transformation will take on a different form within every industry, however, all digital based businesses will all share the following similarities.


Here every member of the organization is meaningfully involved in achieving a shared vision. This means working together at different levels of the organization and across teams to build trust, promote transparency and engage employees.


This would requires a shift away from traditional business structures and hierarchies and empowering employees to make decisions and contribute ideas.


Cloud-based services are economical and agile; they foster businesses to choose the ones that meet their needs and streamline their IT and infrastructure costs.


Members expect ease and convenience from businesses. That means they need to be on mobile, where more than half of all web traffic is generated.


Digital businesses are always experimenting and then learning from the outcomes to inform larger changes across the company.


This transformation process will not have an end date! Technology will continuously evolve and require adaptations to current processes; initiatives will need to keep learning and evolving.


This includes not only collecting and analyzing data about your customers but measuring what’s happening inside your company too.


Ultimately, these shifts are all focused on providing better service and a better experience for your members.

Time to start

This journey will have challenges, those of you who have already started this journey will have experienced this first hand. There are best practices which can be used as a guideline.

Critical here would be focusing on employee needs, processes and tools. This way, company leaders can gain momentum and buy-in for their digital transformation strategy. In saying this, strategy must be clearly articulated and supported by appropriate funding, HR personnel (in-house or newly recruited), openness to new ways of working all accompanied by a willingness to take risks.

The Steps…

Supply the vision

Any change is stressful. The key success factor being utilized by leading American Financial institutions is for leadership team executing the digital transformation, to be wholly committed to radically changing the financial institution.

Here they do not neglect to reinforce the why when they articulate the digital transformation taking place. They would regularly highlight benefits for both employees and customers. This is proving to inspire a sense of purpose and goes a long way in helping employees stay motivated.

Key here would also be taking a step back as this vision is shared and listen to employees’ concerns or challenges throughout the process. Be prepared to change the approach, if people are struggling with adapting to this new way of working.

Provide ongoing support and learning programs

While it is important for the leadership team to help people grapple with new processes, tools and infrastructures, it will prove challenging to guide everyone simultaneously. In order to provide ongoing support, an internal ‘champion network’ must be established to help keep the momentum.

These personnel can be nominated by managers where aptitude and positive personality is exhibited. Quite often, these personnel can emerge organically during a company’s digital transformation, raising their hands and volunteering to help their colleagues.

Company-wide skills training for new tools and processes being introduced during the digital transformation process should also be provided. This would foster employee learning and development opportunities that will help them adapt to changes and thrive in a new digital workplace. Nurturing this growth will support your digital transformation while keeping employees engaged.

Invest in digital tools that enable collaboration

Establishing a collaborative digital workplace creates a strong foundation for a company’s digital transformation in the financial sector. According to Consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers, technology is rapidly reshaping the financial services workforce with many firms finding that they can replace entire processes digitally.

We can hence deem it very important to invest in technological tools that enable knowledge sharing, company-wide collaboration and knowledge management. Such tools can include:

  • Document managers like Box
  • Content databases or internal wikis like Confluence
  • Workflow management software like Asana or Smartsheet

By making information searchable, manageable and readily available, employees can avoid working in silos and can now rather focus on delivering top-notch financial services and competitive member experiences. Once a digital workplace is established, it would now be critical to ensure that your company databases, tools and applications are interoperable.

This would ensure that your company can optimize data analytics efforts and operating patterns and develop new cloud-based services at a faster rate.


Regardless of the obstacles you may encounter, embarking on a digital transformation will make your CU more innovative, keep your employees more engaged, and help grow your member offerings. By investing in a digital transformation, you will ultimately be investing in the capacity of your CU and employees to be nimble, competitive and, most importantly, adaptable in today’s financial world.