Credit unions have a unique challenge and opportunity in front of them. As COVID-19 continues to accelerate our members’ digital expectations, credit unions must embrace digital and find ways to deliver digital innovation at the pace members expect. To do that, credit unions must leverage the power of application programming interfaces (“APIs”) to keep up with the speed of change.
What are APIs?
An API is code that allows two applications or systems to connect and share information with each other. Some common examples of APIs in our daily lives include:
- When we log in to websites using our email or social media accounts, the website has an API that connects our accounts to their login process.
- When we compare airline ticket prices on a travel site, APIs are used to pull all that information in real-time.
- When we pull up the weather or our favorite music on Amazon Alexa, Amazon uses APIs to connect across multiple services at once.
In short: APIs allow websites, mobile apps and IoT devices to streamline the flow of information and back-end processes so that the experience feels seamless to the end-user. Not surprisingly, developers love APIs because it dramatically simplifies their work by eliminating the need to build code from scratch. Today, APIs have become one of the most valuable tools in a developer’s tool chest.
Using APIs to Drive Engagement and Growth
How does all of this impact credit unions? For one, APIs help level the playing field. While credit unions may not have multi-million dollar technology resources to compete with banks and fintech, APIs enable them to introduce new features and enhancements to their existing technology solutions or improve the overall member experience.
Let’s say, for example, you wanted to give your cardholders the ability to immediately add, order, replace or remove a debit card from their checking account. Building that functionality from scratch into your mobile banking app would be a significant undertaking, but a pre-built API (like this one) would dramatically reduce the implementation time.
APIs can also help improve your service channels by automating the flow of information across systems. Let’s say a frustrated member calls your support line and is locked out of his or her account. A cardholder maintenance API would allow your support-staff to quickly pull up information on that cardholder (including names, phone numbers and addresses for the account) or make any changes on the member’s behalf. Having finger-tip access to that information can make a world of difference in the eyes of the member.
Bringing the Power of APIs to Your Credit Union’s Payments Experience
As member experience remains core to the growth of our movement, APIs will be critical to delivering on the expectations of our members. Moreover, APIs can be used to strengthen your credit union by lowering technology implementation costs, streamlining data management and transparency, and improving your ability to roll out new digital services to your members.