Online banking with a human connection

March 08, 2017

Branches, tellers, cash and a giant safe.

That’s how many of us picture ‘traditional banking.’

Today, we talk about banking in terms of apps, e-transfers, chips and tap.

Traditional banking is still alive and well, but online banking has quickly become the new normal.

So, how do you take a system that’s been perfected over decades and successfully move it online?

Carrie Forbes, Director of Solutions at League Data—the Cooperative IT Company responsible for Atlantic Credit Unions’ online platform—says the process starts with open communication.

“Creating great online services is about keeping traditional relationships strong and using technology to support the personal member experience, not replace it,” says Forbes. “At Atlantic Credit Unions, we focus on maintaining human connection in the new digital world.”

But for many members, the new digital world can be quite daunting. Forbes says “fear of IT” is one of the biggest barriers all financial institutions face when building an online service offering.

“Translating ‘geek speak’ into something people can easily understand is one of the keys to helping both employees and members become comfortable with new technology and digital banking apps,” says Forbes. “Providing the best services, whether it’s online or offline, means knowing the needs and concerns of both existing and new members.”

The League Data team is responsible for provisioning and managing Atlantic Credit Unions’ entire core online banking system, which includes the banking portal (website), mobile apps, loan system, network sharing and much more.

Developing the online banking system relies on member research from 47 Atlantic Credit Unions across the network. Forbes says the personal connection credit union staff make at each branch produces real and honest insight into member needs—insight League Data uses to develop the best digital services for the Atlantic Credit Union system.   

“Making decisions based on members’ needs allows us to be efficient when sourcing digital products,” says Forbes. “Since credit union members are owners, we want to make the best use of their investment and making member-focused decisions means we work to get it right the first time. It’s one of our biggest advantages over big banks.”

With a rapidly changing digital landscape, deciding what services to provide takes a versatile team and focusing that team takes strong leadership. Forbes says you can’t pretend to have all the answers, but you have work hard to find them. “Just like the tech industry, our team needs to constantly transform and evolve in order to adapt, learn and grow.”

Part of evolving means gathering diversity of thought, but that’s not always an easy task in a field traditionally dominated by men.

“Although the Atlantic Credit Union system is more representative than most, I’m often the only woman in the room in financial technology meetings,” says Forbes. “It’s helpful to have different points of view because it encourages you to think differently and find new solutions to problems.”

As the banking industry changes to adapt to today’s world, Forbes hopes the IT industry will do the same. She says it’s about getting momentum behind a culture shift to better highlight successful women so younger girls can see themselves reflected in the IT workforce.    

“Digital jobs are the future and if we want to attract more women professionals, young girls need to see role models. I would be ecstatic if my work with League Data could in some way help inspire the next generation of women in IT—it’s a very exciting and rewarding career.”