Ask Kavita Singh - a vice president at payments company Payrailz - what's a smart way to differentiate a credit union in a a competitive marketplace that is ever more cluttered and her answer is succinct: AI.
As she wrote in a recent Credit Union Times article, "Credit union leaders must go a step further and find a true strategic differentiator. This can be found via artificial intelligence."
A few years ago AI was akin to The Matrix - kind of a cool but spacey idea and, truth to tell, none but the very biggest credit unions even had it on their "learn about" lists.
AI is suddenly everywhere. Call your cellphone provider and a machine will answer. Ditto at the big credit card companies. Also airlines. And down a lengthening list of institutions that, increasingly, turn to machines to find information, answer customer questions, solve problems.
In Singh's view, credit unions are ideally positioned to win at AI, mainly because they already have bushels of member data and that data, properly used, will tell how best to serve this member's needs right now.
Singh gives this for instance: "For example, a member may pay a particular bill around a certain time of month. AI will learn this behavior and begin to proactively alert, or remind, members in advance of the pending bill."
Think about that. A simple nudge may help save a member a late fee and that is a way to build member loyalty.
AI can also predict in advance when a member is about to bounce a check and that's not black magic. It's knowing the account balance and also knowing what bills are likely to come in soon and if the numbers don't add up that member could be prodded to shift money from another place into an account to cover the incoming bills. That means more late fees saved.
Think too about how good companies like Amazon and Netflix have gotten about predicting what you want to consume next. They are not guessing. What they are doing is cranking in past consumer behavior and taking a very educated guess about what this consumer wants next.
AI is changing our lives and it will be a factor in what credit unions thrive (and which don't).
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