IT, including our development team. We have our UX team helping us build the prototypes, but then we attract people who are identified as forward-thinking in their field, those who are also looking for an opportunity to share their experiences. We have people from our call center, our branch network, our accounting team and several other departments. Combining diverse experiences helps us look at different solutions holistically.
“We also seek to collect and nurture employee ideas. We have an internal program within the Lab called CU Innovate where we solicit ideas from our employees, ”said Maxim.
Not only are employees brought to the Lab to contribute ideas and encourage innovation, they also vote on projects that should go to pilot stage.
The desire to innovate, admits Maxim, was motivated by a change in members’ behavior. Where people came to college and thought it made sense to “check the branch near campus,” the rise of fintech superstars, such as Chime or PayPal, brought in competition, and the big national banks. (they themselves invest heavily in fintech companies and developers) promote customer loyalty from parent to child.
“We’re trying to compete with that and help consumers understand what we’re offering them and how we can prepare them for a successful financial future,” says Maxim.
Keyno, a fraud prevention tool, Pocketnest ™, a financial well-being dashboard, and ChangEd, are currently in the pilot phase for early repayment of student loans through a transaction aggregation feature.
“We have a few projects going on that will target people while they’re still in school, providing education and other related topics, and how to make sure you have a solid financial foundation when you exit school. school. We want to make offers accessible to everyone, then customize them to reach these markets. “
Maxim started in this role at MSUFCU in January 2020, after 12 years in the software development team for the credit union and got into reading. He read a book by Eric Ries called The Startup Way, which, along with The Lean Startup by Ries, is the main reading for all of Silicon Valley. He was won over by the idea of entrepreneurship within organizations, then followed the process of joining internal stakeholders, fundraising, recruiting a team, etc.
“A lot of [The Lab] is modeled on the principles of those books and really tries to avoid what has been coined as an ‘innovation theater’ where you spend money on a fancy room or building and then come up with all these ideas, but in the end there is not the opportunity – or the ROI – that results from it.
“So either we get something out of it or we show ourselves it’s not the right thing to do because our members don’t want it or the return on investment just isn’t there,” he said. added Maxim.
The program has dramatically transformed the speed of testing. POP / io, a video banking company, had been hiding near the MSUFCU project committee for 18 months before being immersed in The Lab. “We were up and running in five weeks,” explains Maxim.
Tim Mielak, Chief Information Security Officer of MSUFCU, also appreciated the
regained organizational agility. “The lab really got us to look at our safety review process. A traditional, classic security review process is really a door, so we’ve had to expand over the past year in anticipation of this type of innovation. We have started to build security systems capable of quickly adapting to the demands of an innovation laboratory. The new process allows projects to move quickly through security protocols “without being reckless”.
With the advancing complexity of attacks faced by increasing levels of security, is it easier and easier to fend off threats, or much more difficult? “It’s getting more and more difficult with the new methods,” explains Mielak, “and easier with the old methods. “
“It is the new security routes that will start to challenge us. And I’ll give you a great example which is artificial intelligence. AI is the buzzword. This is true for products, but it is also true for safety. Imagine a future in, say, five years from now where security is based entirely on intelligent artificial robots fighting and trying to outsmart each other. It’s a technology we haven’t even really dreamed of yet. It’s more conceptual. We must adopt it, as a security service, in the same spirit as The Lab.
“We need to embrace innovation, thinking outside the box and security to try not only to support these efforts for our members, but also to ensure we stay ahead of the evolving threat actors. on their own. And so, we spend a lot of time making sure that we have properly calibrated our security program for the threats we actually face, from ordinary phishing to nation-state threat actors.
MSUFCU is also embracing digital transformation. “This is one of our main goals right now, coming out of COVID,” says Maxim, “and as part of that, our team of business analysts looked at each of our business areas and shared their ideas on how we can improve procedures and processes. that were manual. We are also looking to improve efficiency through automation or custom AI solutions, from the frontline to the back office. We’re also really trying to improve our digital presence.
The credit union is keenly aware that nearly a third of its members live too far away to regularly visit a branch in person, despite another pandemic lockdown or other unforeseen event.
“People have adapted to interacting digitally with us, and they don’t go through traditional channels with the same frequency as before. We don’t see that many in branches every Friday to deposit their paychecks, because they do it with eDeposit; we don’t have as many people calling to check balances because they are doing it on the mobile app, and they can get SMS alerts, ”said Maxim
This is the foundation from which MSUFCU hopes to accelerate using The Lab. And this initiative has proven to be a testing ground not only for technologies but also for partnerships, such as with the Keyno fraud prevention tool.
Maxim explains: “They have been working on a product for a few years and have come a long way, and they were looking for a first customer. We got a call and I knew right away this was something we wanted to explore. Keyno is one of our first pilots in The Lab. They had set up a ready-made pilot program where they had built the technology, but they needed real cardholders to try it out.
As tests roll out to more cardholders and the fourth quarter crisis for big ticket purchases arrives, the MSUFCU “is already examining how it can reduce fraud to recoup some of the revenue. that we lost in the first few months of COVID, and allowed us to move forward in terms of revenue.
Boost.ai is another key partner, allowing the credit union chatbot to take care of simple requests while MSUFCU employees help members with more complex requests.
“With the virtual assistant, you get more consistent answers at all levels,” explains Maxim. “We piloted with Boost.ai and asked inexperienced members of our team to become Boost.ai certified trainers. We were able to develop the content and train the model in 10 days, then test it with a group of 60 people. User satisfaction reached almost 100% over the next four weeks. Through the pilot project, we determined that we could automate approximately 2,000 employee-to-employee interactions each month.
“We decided this was a business we wanted to move forward with and we are currently in the process of expanding it. We are learning AI. Yes, technology is involved, but a lot of that is about content, training, business flow, and business process.
The Lab, which was only officially launched in the fall of 2020, is already creating alchemical results for MSUFCU. As the credit union looks to 2021 and beyond, it can expect to see the reaction.