WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.-Three years ago, Purdue Federal Credit Union wanted to enhance its "big browser" online banking platform to better serve its approximate 62,000 members. Now, after two years of successful implementation, the credit union has increased its online banking membership by 25%.
"Converting to a new system of any kind is probably the largest, most complex project a financial institution can undertake and with it comes many challenges," said Vice President of Information Technology Scott Ksander. "From past experiences of converting other systems and knowing what can potentially happen, we didn't anticipate that it would go as smoothly as it did. Our members didn't even notice-that's how smooth it was."
When the decision was made to find a new online banking solution, Ksander's 15-person IT department researched countless vendors. In 2010, ACI WorldWide's Architect Banking solution was selected for implementation and over the course of the following year the solution was integrated.
"As is always the case, we use our internal staff as guinea pigs," said Ksander. Along with the IT department, roughly 85 of the credit union's approximate 200 employees also tested the product. "Since we are all members, we utilize many employees who are early adopters and who always give great feedback."
Purdue FCU uses Fiserv's Spectrum for its core operating system. To ensure a successful conversion, Ksander's project team worked closely with a ACI contact to monitor progress, which required weekly meetings. While the integration went well, Ksander said it was important to determine that the third-party vendor could make a seamless transition without interfering with existing operations.
"One of our requirements was being able to add uniqueness, which was more so aesthetic changes, such as where the member account button is, or soon we will be adding a rewards program button," said Ksander.
One 'Huge' Concern
Security is a "huge" concern for Ksander, who said that while he takes the highly publicized denial of service attacks (DDoS) seriously, he feels there is a "little over stirring of the pot" by the media. "Security is half of what I think about on a daily basis and our job is to mitigate concerns," said Ksander. "This new system is encrypted and secure and we continually offer member education."
With 62,000 members, the $750-million Purdue FCU has experienced 25 consecutive months of online banking growth. In April, nearly 56% of members were active with online banking, which means they accessed accounts within 30 days. This also marked a 22% increase in transactions, such as address changes, transfers and stop-payments. And bank-by-phone transactions have been reduced by 20%.
Ksander explained that ACI Architect provides members with an intuitive, personalized experience. For example, they can select which account to act as the primary source for overdraft coverage through their online banking account. And they can renew or move an expired Share Certificate (CD) to a savings account through the online platform. Previously, members were required to visit a branch or speak to a representative.
"Not only are we able to customize the banking experience, we now have access to unique marketing capabilities and options that allow us to evolve as our members' needs change," said Ksander.
Big Browser vs. Small Browser
With a tech-progressive member base, due in part to its Purdue University members, the credit union is looking at two models, one being traditional home PC banking, the other being smart phone/mobile banking.
"We are trying to determine big browser versus small browser," said Ksander. "There has been a metamorphosis of ideas. First it was online banking and then came mobile banking. We used to think there was a correlation. Now we see these as two separate banking channels."
To better address the needs of its growing mobile banking demographic, Purdue FCU is in the process of developing an in-house mobile app that will launch in September. "The new students coming to Purdue have had mobile technology for at least eight years, since fifth or six grade," said Ksander. "We don't have to educate them on the joys of e-commerce. We have to attract them and familiarize them with our services."
While Ksander said he is curious to see what application-big browser or small browser-will define the online banking model in the future, he is certain that both categories will be viable channels. "I wish I knew the answer and am curious to see what happens, but electronic access to banking will continue to grow."