Wednesday 26th May, 2021
Credit Union Services in a digital age
We've passed the 30th birthday of the world wide web and the 12th Birthday of the launch of the first iPhone, starting a revolution not only in how we communicate but in how we educate, inform, get news and entertainment, how we do business, how we buy goods and services, including financial services.
12 years of change
In the 12 years since the launch of the iPhone our high street has changed forever. Great names that we grew up with have vanished. Woolworths, Comet, BHS, Blockbuster Video, Thomas Cook, names that we had known for decades, even centuries, washed away by a changing tide of consumer expectations and demands.
These have been replaced by new corporate giants like Google, Netflix, Amazon and a swathe of travel, news and information companies based on the web and available to us 24 hours a day at the flick of a thumb on our mobiles.
The old stores may have been former favourites that felt comfortable, like a trusty old cardigan we could wrap around ourselves, but they failed to adapt to changing behaviours and whilst we were comfortable seeing those famous brand names as we walked past them, we did walk past them as their failure to adapt made them increasingly irrelevant.
The true extent of this hit me last Christmas when I went out to a shopping centre to do some late Christmas shopping and, being unable to find exactly what I wanted, found myself sitting in the shopping centre on my phone’s Amazon app, ordering exactly what I wanted, for next day delivery.
In financial services, the last 12 years have seen the number of people regularly using online banking rise from 30% to 74%. 94% of adults own and operate mobiles and the internet. This year saw banking by mobile app overtake internet banking for the first time and apps are predicted to serve the majority of all banking services by 2021.
First Rate is a tremendously successful Credit Union of which we should all be very proud. Serving BAE systems people since 1982 and becoming a large asset Credit Union, we have operated in a steady, old-fashioned way and have been the comfortable trusty old cardigan for savings & loans. But like those other trusty old cardigans, if we fail to adapt we risk becoming irrelevant.
Credit Unions provide an exciting opportunity. People helping people with a common bond in their own financial organisation, owned by them and run for them and their friends and colleagues and all on a not-for-profit basis. Taking the greed out of financial services. The more people we can bring these services to, the better for all of us.
That is the foundation of our drive to digital. To bring ourselves into the 21st Century, providing easy access to our services for BAE systems people across the country, 24 hours a day.
A drive to remove the 14 different paper forms that we currently get people to sign and send back to us for various reasons along with rafts of other documents like passports, driver licenses, and bank statements.
A drive to make it easier to open and operate an account from Portsmouth to Lossiemouth at any time of day than it is to call into an office at Warton, Samlesbury or Barrow in office hours to write out and sign pieces of paper.
A drive to digital will make us genuinely accessible, genuinely available to everyone in the BAE Systems family, smooth the member journey for existing members and new ones alike whilst at the same time cutting costs, speeding delivery and helping the environment by a reduction in the masses of paperwork we currently generate.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and the first steps have now been taken.
New members are now signing up electronically and instantly on our web site at www.firstratecu.co.uk and former members are re-joining in the same way.
We are urging existing members to register for online access from our web site where they can monitor their accounts, check their balances and make withdrawal requests securely, 24 hours a day.
Online forms are now genuinely online and won't just take you to a pdf for you to print out, fill in and bring back to us.
Members can now sign their loan agreements quickly, simply and electronically in just seconds from their computers, tablets or mobiles.
Over the last few months we have introduced online lending, encrypted chat and document transfer via mobile app or web site, open banking connections and have transformed the credit union into a smooth, digital experience.
The comfy cardigan of the same friendly staff is still there at the end end of the phone or on our Nivo app but for everyone else, the future is coming as we drive to make our services available to the whole BAE systems family, as we update and head into a First Rate future ahead.