A credit union-built fintech

Constellation Digital Partners’ aim is a platform that supports multiple apps for digital banking.

Some credit unions are struggling to navigate a world in which the best financial technology often can come from alien fintechs. A few, like Coastal Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C., learned how more than a decade ago.

That was when the organization saw a need to centralize teller transactions in video sessions. It partnered with Gene Pranger to build such a product and named it uGenius. It worked for Coastal FCU. It worked for other CUs. It worked for banks. Five years ago, the owners sold it to omnichannel solutions provider NCR, Atlanta. “We made a very handsome return—about 400 percent—on our investment,” notes Chuck Purvis, CLE, CUDE, CCE, president/CEO of the $2.9 billion credit union.

Now Coastal FCU and its partners are in the late stages of building a new fintech, called Constellation Digital Partners. It’s owned by nine CUs and four service providers that pitched in $26 million and about two years of planning to launch last May. It’s in the heavy software development stage now and expects to have live users by July or August, Purvis says.

“It’s clumsy to keep putting more functionality into a single mobile banking app,” Purvis observes. “We’re planning something like an app store for financial services that will be flexible. It will offer greater functionality at lower cost than trying to get it all from one big system provider.”


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