How credit unions are playing David against industry Goliaths

Regardless of a credit union’s size, members expect digital-first capabilities that can compete with what for-profit financial institutions (FIs) offer. While many CUs are rising to the innovation challenge, there are differences across the CU landscape. To measure CUs’ current and planned innovations, PYMNTS Intelligence developed the Innovation Readiness Index (IRI). Scores indicate how well CUs’ current products, features and planned innovations align with what members want and the products and features linked to higher satisfaction levels.

On average, credit unions earned an IRI score of 44.2 out of 100. This indicates that the average CU’s current and future portfolio matches members’ preferences approximately 44% of the time. In contrast, the most innovative CUs, or top performers, average an IRI score of 65.

PYMNTS Intelligence data shows smaller credit unions are punching above their weight. Seventeen percent of CUs with less than $1 billion in assets are top performers. These smaller CUs are 35% more likely to be top performers than those with more than $5 billion in assets. This indicates that CU size does not necessarily correlate with high performance. In fact, smaller CUs are finding their own path to innovation.

These are some findings from the “2024 Credit Union Innovation Readiness Index,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Velera (formerly PSCU/Co-op Solutions) collaboration. The report examines how CUs can reap the benefits of digital innovation to gain members and reduce churn. The index is based on two surveys. First, a survey of 200 CU executives from March 7 to April 2 explored CUs’ current product and feature offerings and their plans for future innovation. Second, a census-balanced survey of 4,551 U.S. consumers from Feb. 29 to April 8 investigated which products and features consumers want and expect from CUs.


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