Go Beyond Basic Banking As Financial First-Responders

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2023)

Editor’s note: This article is a guest post from our partners at StrategyCorps. Their mission aligns with our own, helping credit unions build revenues while building relationships and financial equity for members. It has been edited to fit our Learning Library formatting and guidelines.

Few people get excited about basic banking. Whether paying bills or managing account balances, they’re not “yippee” moments. Being the boring (and reliable) financial institution is one approach, but we believe there’s opportunity to play a much more active role in members’ lives.

Those mundane (though essential) banking functions must always be the core of your operations. However, most institutions let their interactions end there. What if you could help members save money on products and services beyond the credit union? And we don’t mean just offering a discount at your sponsored stadium (this is a thing with some large CUs).

Becoming a positive part of a member’s everyday creates value and connection while differentiating from the basic “free checking” set of features offered by most financial institutions. (Hint: Chime connects with customers emotionally. They didn’t earn over 14 million customers by solely providing the boring stuff.)

Be a Financial First Responder

Creating value for your members is about truly making a positive difference in their lives. Having the fastest, simplest, and most convenient app and banking platform is important, but it’s not what gets people invested in your brand. Nor is having the lowest fees or highest savings rates.

Consumer research by StrategyCorps found that people want products to help them control their financial lives…beyond what a typical checking account will provide. (Look at the detail provided alongside the Apple Card to see the bare minimum expectation today. Then consider how that jives with your credit union services.)

People want connection – helping them save money on everyday purchases, protecting things and their families, both concepts which are well outside of the typical “basic checking” realm. Readers of this Learning Library will know what to expect now: Value-Added Checking. We see the value in using your core product, checking, to build member loyalty.

A member-focused value-added checking product empowers your institution to become financial first responders. It lets you provide tools to your members that expand the relationship beyond just deposits, withdrawals, and payments…all with the checking account as a “hub”.

When you are serving members, rather than just being a digital vault, those primary accounts strengthen, as well as become more financially productive. By which we mean: More relationships (deposit and loan), increased non-interest income (subscription fees for valuable benefits), an interchange income growth (members with such accounts use them more).

It’s easy to talk abstractly about benefits and adding value. Here are some examples of common perks members receive with value-added checking programs. Recognizing you already pay (more) for them isn’t unusual!

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Features People Want…and Need

Your credit union provides auto loans, so car stuff isn’t outside your wheelhouse. So if a member has car trouble and gets stuck on a roadway, where do they turn? Over 57 million Americans look to AAA. What if they could access roadside assistance as a perk of their credit union’s checking account? Relevancy raised!

Savings, convenience, and all within the credit union branding. Ensure you can go beyond basic banking needs to be your member’s financial first responder with helpful services, including the following:

Local and National Shopping Discounts

Deals at more than 400,000 local stores and national chains. Yes, your credit union can build a “local network” to grow branding and expand business services.

Travel and Entertainment Discounts

Getting away is fun, but sometimes stressful, and almost always pricey. Be there for members whether they’re in the wilderness or Fantasyland with exclusive discounts.

Fuel Discounts

Unfortunately, our country is still poorly connected by trains, bike paths, and transit (Editor’s note: I’m working on it!), so getting around often means driving. Since most haven’t converted to EVs, it’s important to find the best pricing on fuel. With value-added checking, your members save more as they use their debit card more. Vroom vroom for the win/win!

Credit/Identity Monitoring with Credit Score & ID Theft Assistance

Cyber criminals are crafty. Between their motivated efforts and some businesses’ poor use of your member’s information, it’s an inevitability that compromises happen. Value-added checking can with tools and information to help members make smart decisions to manage their financial health.

If an incident does occur, your credit union has an included resource to help your members recover and secure their identity. With identity theft costing about $1000 per incident, protection and coverage is a massive financial empowerment tool.

Buyer’s Protection

Accidents happen. Your members shouldn’t get stuck with the bill, and they won’t with buyer’s protection and extended warranties. Included with many credit cards, value-added checking can empower your credit union to add it to your debit cards as well. Just another way to grow interchange income, increase loyalty, and build an emotional connection to your accounts.

StrategyCorps Subscription Model Client Story - Cover

Learn how one credit union made the change to subscription and the gains they saw following. Could you duplicate with your members? Get the data and honest insights needed in the Client Story.

Bill Negotiation

Some of us are happy (ok, not happy, but willing) to chat or call every company we do business with to find the best rates. Especially those subscription services (of which we all probably have too many). We know there’s a better deal, but they know everyone doesn’t have the time to do that. Until now. Value-added checking can include bill negotiation services!

Your members just sign in, add their services, and the platform seeks out all available discounts…automatically. Watch the latest must-see series for less. Get rid of duplicated services (it happens). Save big money. All because of their credit union.

Differentiate & Deliver

Other articles in the Learning Library dive into value-added checking from diverse angles, from case studies to FAQs and more. Here’s we are reiterating the importance of a differentiated checking lineup. Because most are boring, and do little to drive loyalty, financial wellness, or even revenues. Go beyond banking, because your member’s money does, too.

Help members save money, provide them important protection, and be at their side to build a financial life of less stress and more delight.

Oh, yeah, we sure do offer a Value-Added Checking solution, provided by StrategyCorps, which can deliver on all these perks. We didn’t even talk about all the great data it provides, so let’s just say it is worth a few minutes of your time. It’s worked wonders for hundreds of financial institutions, so let’s set up a chat to see how it would look at yours.

Article adapted from original by Gregg Early. Gregg is a financial writer and editor who’s worked as a journalist for American Banker, Bond Buyer, and others covering the SEC, MSRB, Supreme Court, and various Congressional finance committees. His expertise is fintech, emerging technologies, biotech, ESG, green tech, cryptocurrencies and derivatives. His work has been featured on CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg, as well as in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Businessweek.

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