Online banking boom for SafeAmerica after system switch

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Being located in the heart of Silicon Valley means members of SafeAmerica Credit Union have high expectations for technology.

This motivated the $433 million-asset institution to switch from its dated online banking system to an artificial intelligence technology offered by Bankjoy, a mobile banking tech firm. Management found this new system to be nimble and dynamic after only one demo.

To be sure, there were potential risks. Members had to re-enroll in online services, and management was worried that some users wouldn’t take this step. To head off this problem, management was transparent with members and employees about what was happening.

Ultimately the new system led to SafeAmerica increasing its online enrollment by 42 percent in just eight months. Because of this success, the Credit Union Journal has selected SafeAmerica as one of the recipients of its Best Practice Awards this year in the category of boosting online engagement.

To train the staff on the new banking system, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based credit union started with a basic overview of what was changing with its online banking months before deployment and testing, said Steven Page, SafeAmerica’s vice president of information technology, marketing and digital banking.

As the go-live date approached, management provided handouts and cheat sheets and put information on its intranet. Staff, along with a few tech-savvy members, started using the new platform before it went live, Page added.

“This hands-on approach and input from the staff made them very aware of how the system would be working,” Page said. “Staff was much more comfortable with the launch because they had already been familiar with the new product.”

SafeAmerica had “a very lengthy” notification period of letting members know that the change was coming, Page said. That included digital, mail, email and marketing materials.

“It was no secret that there was a change in online banking coming and here’s what it will look like and offer,” Page said. “To have the membership re-enroll [in the online banking system] was actually very simple. We explained to the membership why they had to [go to a new system] and that this is a good practice anyway for setting a new password and using a better user-name that would help stop fraud.”

Page believes usage has gone up since the credit union’s branches have aggressively pushed new digital services to members. Employees have spent time showing members how to use its digital services, including its mobile app, when they stop by the branch.

“You have to have staff in place that can help the member with technical issues,” Page said. “If most members are going to have a phone in their hand or by them almost 24 hours a day, you better be one of the apps they are using.”

SafeAmerica learned a number of things from this transition, Page said, namely, that credit unions must heavily train staff until they know the system “in their sleep.”

“Not only will you learn from it, but the engagement and acceptance of the new product won’t be such a big surprise,” Page added. “No surprises. Stay transparent.”

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Online banking Best Practices Awards