From the world’s first ATMs, debit cards and online banking systems to our ever-expanding shared branch network, credit unions have brought to market some of fintech’s most impactful innovations.

So, what is it about our movement that makes it such a hotbed of ideas? And, how can we continue to unleash our creativity going forward?

These are the questions behind the formation of three new CO-OP Co-Creation Councils, collaborative councils comprised of credit union leaders from across the country led by CO-OP executive management team members and subject matter experts.

Launched in January, Co-Creation Councils are ultimately tasked with advancing the credit union movement, elevating the member experience and unlocking the Next Big Thing in payments.

“Co-Creation Councils by design tap into something very powerful and unique about credit unions – our cooperative spirit,” said Samantha Paxson, chief marketing and experience officer for CO-OP.  “You never see Wells Fargo and Bank of America getting in a room together to share trade secrets.  However, because as credit unions we are united in service to members and communities – and not to shareholders – we can come together and operate as one. That is our competitive advantage, and it leads to great things.”

Three Councils, Three Missions

CO-OP Co-Creation Councils are structured as three distinct entities, each with its own area of focus.

  • The Strategy Co-Creation Council is responsible for assessing how CO-OP assets are best leveraged to serve the broader credit union movement.
  • The Experience Co-Creation Council is focused on enhancing member engagement by enhancing the service experience for both credit union personnel and the members they serve.
  • The Solutions Design Co-Creation Council is comprised of four subcommittees – Networks, Payments, Data/Digital and Fraud/Contact Center. Each is responsible for driving innovation across its respective product lines, with an emphasis on solving the most pressing problems faced by credit unions and their members today.

“Co-Creation Councils exist on a continuum,” said Shazia Manus, chief product and strategy officer for CO-OP.  “Strategy is advancing our movement’s mission, and Experience is examining ways to push our platforms and ecosystem to be more intuitive and seamless for members.  Solutions is focused on the features and functionality of products, assessing what is working, what isn’t, and what is needed that perhaps doesn’t exist yet.”

Inspiring Digital Transformation

While Co-Creation Councils are responsible for studying specific challenges and opportunities in depth, their collective findings will inform CO-OP’s digital transformation strategy on many levels.

“A successful digital transformation strategy is always data-driven, and our Co-Creation Councils are helping us unleash a wealth of data that resides within our community,” said Manus.  “Each partnering credit union brings its own unique insights, experiences and strategies to the discussion, and CO-OP brings to Council ideas and initiatives the infrastructure, foundation and scale needed to bring innovation to life.”

Paxson adds, “Co-Creation Councils are committed to delivering innovation that is member-centric. This means that everything we do from a product, systems and experience perspective has to be purposefully designed with the end-user in mind. As the unequivocal experts on the credit union member, our credit union partners bring invaluable discernment to both validate and challenge the strategies CO-OP’s teams develop.”

First Meetings Get Rave Reviews

More than 60 client credit unions joined CO-OP’s executive management team in Washington DC last month for the initiative’s inaugural session.  According to Manus, the experience exceeded all expectations.

“Hundreds of new ideas were generated there,” she said.  As a next step, CO-OP thought leaders will evaluate the input and then deliver top ideas back to Councils for in-depth analyses and recommendations.

“Our vision for this program transcends fintech,” said Paxson.  “We also see the Co-Creation Councils as a way to solidify relationships throughout our community.  We want to help credit unions collaborate with each other – and become stronger as a result.”