A growing number of fintech companies are finding ways to cater tech offerings to credit union members, including apps that help reduce monthly bills and obtain insurance policies.

“Our original mobile and online banking solution was ugly and difficult to use,” recalled Oliver Hill, director of IT at Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union. “Our credit union’s average member age is 22, so we don’t have an option to not offer best-in-class technology.”

In an effort to solve that problem, the $20 million-asset Washington, D.C.-based CU has adopted Billshark and Lemonade, both integrations from the New York-based fintech Narmi.

Nikhil Lakhanpal, co-founder of Narmi and a former credit union executive
Nikhil Lakhanpal, co-founder of Narmi and a former credit union executive

“Members are able to the enjoy the modern user experience and value-added benefits of fintech, all while using their credit union mobile or online banking application,” said Narmi co-founder Nikhil Lakhanpal, who previously served as CEO of Georgetown University Alumni & Student FCU.

Lakhanpal explained that the “Billshark” app assists members in reducing monthly bills through negotiations, including monthly invoices for cable, phone and internet, among other bills.

A screenshot of Narmi's Billshark app, which integrates with credit union mobile banking systems.
A screenshot of Narmi's Billshark app, which integrates with credit union mobile banking systems. Photo courtesy of Narmi

“There are currently approximately 375 million monthly bills in America and roughly 80 percent can be negotiated,” he said adding that the average amount saved per bill is approximately $280.

“Members will be able to submit monthly bills for negotiation with just a few taps in their credit union branded mobile application,” said Lakhanpal. “Narmi facilitates the information transfer from the account holder to Billshark, and Billshark’s ‘sharks’ take care of the rest.”

The Florist Federal Credit Union CEO Cisco Malpartida
The Florist Federal Credit Union CEO Cisco Malpartida

The Florist FCU in Roswell, N.M., has also adopted some Narmi technology. CEO Cisco Malpartida said his $10.7 million-asset credit union is in the process of implementing Billshark for its approximately 1,000 members.

“What I like most is that these fintech integrations are within my credit union’s mobile application,” said Malpartida. “So if I want to reduce my members’ bills with Billshark, they don’t leave my CU app.”

From a technology perspective, Hill said that Narmi “handles” development and integrations.

“When we originally set up our online banking platform and mobile app we provided them with the technical details of our network and IT infrastructure, established a VPN tunnel, and they covered the rest,” said Hill.

Making 'Lemonade'

With a focus on homeowners and renters insurance, and policies starting at $25 a month and $5 a month, respectively, Lakhanpal said Lemonade is an “artificial intelligence-infused way” to obtain a home insurance policy.

Hill and Malpartida were attracted to the Lemonade app for the same reason as Billshark: ease of use. And as former credit union executives, Malpartida said, Narmi leadership understands the industry ethos.

“What I like most is that these fintech integrations are within my credit union’s mobile application,” said Malpartida. “The Narmi team understands credit union technology like no other. They were former credit union executives after all.”

The enrollment process for Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union’s approximate 3,500 members has been streamlined, explained Hill. Billshark and Lemonade aren’t thought of as “separate apps,” but rather “advanced functionality” within the CU’s existing app.

Oliver Hill, CEO of Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union
Oliver Hill, CEO of Georgetown University Alumni & Student FCU

“Members can simply flip a switch in the settings of their app to toggle these features. All a member has to do is be an enrolled member in our credit union’s mobile or online banking platform,” said Hill. “They will have access to bill negotiation services and affordable property insurance all in one experience.”

From contract signing to launch, Lakhanpal said it takes roughly six months to roll out the apps, although a CU’s asset class and size could be a factor. Testing, he added, is a critical component to the implementation process.

“We work closely with credit union staff to help them understand what their new digital banking platform can do and what questions to expect from members,” said Lakhanpal. “Call center representatives are often our most important source of both member and staff feedback.”

While Malpartida said it is too soon to share user statistics, he said that he “expects a decent percentage of our members to use these integrations.”

Hill couldn’t share show many of his members currently use the apps, but he believes the CU’s estimated 2,500 active mobile users will be attracted to these integrations.

“I’d like to see run-rate 15 percent adoption for these apps,” said Hill. “But because of our younger demographic, this number could be higher.”