News & Press: Credit Union News

Why Spending Time Upfront on Design Is Key

Monday, July 9, 2018  
Share | (July 5, 2018) - Spending more time upfront and working through the complexities of creating a customized digital platform is worth the expense and effort, says Affinity Plus FCU, which has seen usage of its new e-services take off.


The $2.1-billion credit union used four different vendors to assemble its new offerings, and in the first week 90,000 members logged into its mobile-banking app and online banking in excess of 700,000 times. In all, more than 55,000 members downloaded the new app for either iOS or Android.

User ratings, too, have soared in comparison to ratings for the credit union’s previous app.


“Members rated our old app 1.8 out of five in the Apple App Store and our new app is rated at 4.8,” said Teri Laufers, senior vice president of IT operations and development. “At the end of the first month, we had 107,000 members logged into the new digital system and 75,000 app downloads—and 4.8 was still the rating.”


‘Never Been Shy’

The credit union got the strong results, said Laufers, from first asking members what they like and dislike in mobile and online solutions.


“Our members have never been shy about telling us what they think about our services, and that has really helped us with the new digital offering,” said Laufers. “As I said, our members told us they had a poor experience with our previous mobile application, so we designed the new platform around what members are looking for.”


Discussions with members and extensive focus-group testing led Affinity Plus to determine that high on members’ wish list for a new digital solution was a much easier login experience.


“They told us about their frustrations with our previous platform and login was a big sore spot,” Laufers said. “A streamlined and easier login was by far the most requested new feature. Good security was next, as well as being able to perform a lot of everyday banking functions and transfer money.”


Customization Key

Affinity Plus said a pre-built platform simply did not allow for the customization the credit union wanted, as well as the flexibility it needed to make adjustments today and in the future.


“When we began designing our solution we looked at a lot of leading mobile applications and not just those offered by financial institutions,” Laufers explained. “We looked closely at things like do people like to swipe left and right or up and down, how are people accustomed to using apps, is an app intuitive. A lot went into customizing our solution.”


Laufers said that in looking at pre-built platforms the credit union could not find one that offered enough ability to make changes as needed.


“We think the solution we developed, having a software development kit and the ability to customize—not just from a configuration standpoint but really allowing the mobile app to be what we wanted it to be—is the way to go,” she said.


The Roles of Vendors

Affinity used three different vendors to produce a platform that is tied to a Fiserv online banking platform.


One vendor performed the coding, another customization for the web experience, and the third addressed remote deposit capture. The new solution integrates, too, with PSCU for payments and the CU’s MyPlus Rewards online redemption site.


“As we looked for vendors, we made it part of the RFP process to see how effectively they integrate with other solutions,” said Laufers. “We wanted a demonstrated, strong, proven ability to integrate with other systems. We looked for their published APIs, do they support SSO integration. There is a high level of complexity in doing this for sure, but we were confident in our ability to deliver.”


Laufers said that while the upfront costs for taking this approach may be more expensive that choosing an off-the-shelf solution, that long term the benefits of the extra dollars spent today will pay off.


“Think about it. Our digital channel usage far exceeds most of our branch traffic combined. And its usage just continues to grow,” said Laufers. “So we definitely feel we have to bring something meaningful and useful to our members.”


Responding to Members

Laufers emphasized that while a strong digital platform drives greater member usage of electronic delivery, what the CU is really doing is responding to member behavior.


“We had to listen closely to what our members were telling us they wanted, and a lot of the vendors that we looked at for off-the-shelf solutions did not integrate well with other applications, like bill pay or remote deposit capture. A custom solution was the right way to go for us. Long term, this is not the more expensive way to do business. We can add to our platform and customize as needed knowing we are positioned well for the years ahead and that our members will always have a great digital experience.”

Minnesota Credit Union Network
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