Credit Unions: You Need a Digital Payment Strategy

June 23, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

In order to keep up with the oncoming future of the payments market—according to word from both Mastercard and Visa, as expressed at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions—a digital strategy is going to be vital. Representatives from the card kingpins made it clear, and though physical cards were still going to be a big part of the picture for some time to come, digital is the path of tomorrow.

Perhaps the biggest support for such a strategy came from Visa’s vice president of corporate strategy, Neil Mumm. Mumm noted that 80 percent of functions in Australia are done on a contactless basis, so being prepared for a similar set of conditions in the United States may just be smart business. While that wasn’t so right now—Mumm admitted that it would take a “massive infrastructure change” to get away from the physical card in any large numbers—it may well be on deck.

Mastercard’s senior vice president of North America enterprise solutions, Ben Colvin, was not to be outdone here. Colvin noted that a card strategy should focus on education—which includes not only customers comfortable with the card’s use but also against the potential for large-scale attacks—and card storage in digital systems.

Further, the duo talked tokenization as a security measure and the means that millennials—the next big market for the next several years—use to pay for things. Such points would help credit unions develop the new strategies that would allow them to hold a market and gather new users going forward.

I’m a credit union member myself, and I know that these places often do a great job in terms of offering additional services many banks won’t. The advice from Visa and Mastercard should be welcome, and provide worthwhile insight for those credit unions. Given how many mobile payment systems today require some kind of credit or debit card option to serve as their base, having a strategy in place to address not only cards but also mobile is an excellent idea.

In the end, Visa and Mastercard probably aren’t recommending anything that most credit unions haven’t at least considered by now. However, the increased urgency this call to action represents should make the credit unions move from consideration to action. There’s too much at stake to not.