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Opinion

Bridging service and safety during the coronavirus outbreak

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Every organization needs a contingency plan, credit unions included. In times of crisis and changing behavior – including the social distancing most Americans are practicing now – the way credit unions interact with their members will have to evolve. What won’t change, however, is the fact that over 100 million U.S. citizens depend upon credit unions for critical services.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, credit unions will need to find a balance: they should continue to provide critical services (including accepting deposits, opening accounts and more) while ensuring their members and employees are kept safe. Technology will be key to finding this balance.

For example, interactive teller machines are one such way to add a layer of technology that removes teller-to-member interaction while providing continuity of service.

Known for being cost-effective, ITMs allow CUs to extend banking hours, expand their geographical reach and accommodate variable traffic. And during an emergency they provide full-service banking without the need for an in-person teller. ITMs offer CUs the ability to execute disbursement transactions (such as depositing checks, withdrawing cash funds, initiating new accounts and fulfilling loan payments) as well as the ability to communicate directly with a teller via video conference.

Read more: Complete coronavirus coverage

As an increasing number of institutions begin to move toward more faceless interactions, applying technology that mitigates fraud should be planned for as well. As with any new banking technology, fraudsters are quick to take advantage of newly acquired technology, including ITMs.

To mitigate potential ITM-initiated check fraud losses, credit unions should consider adding real-time assessments – evaluating check fraud deposits in real-time, before a loss can occur – and leveraging robust, up-to-date fraud data.

In addition, CUs should plan for new fraud tactics that will be created as a result of the outbreak. For example, phishing attacks such as selling masks or toilet paper might target members in your card portfolio. Business email-compromise scams that look like HR updates or spoofed government emails on the COVID-19 spread might result in misdirected funds.

In today’s uncertain environment, it’s important that CUs create plans that adapt member service. Technology will be a powerful driver to bring those plans to life.

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