In today’s fast-paced digital world, credit unions face a constant challenge – how to balance digital convenience and new technologies with the traditional aspect of banking on which members have come to rely. Things like branches, in-person financial assistance, and cash.
Cash usage rises in 2023
By now we’ve all heard about the steadily growing trend amongst Gen Z to use cash as a budgeting tool. In the US, around 69 percent of the younger generation is using more cash than they were at this time last year. Nearly a quarter admit they are using cash for most of their purchases.
But, with prices rising and everyone feeling the economic volatility, Gen Z is no longer the only group reaching for physical currency as a safe haven. Over half (53%) of US consumers admit they are currently relying on cash more now than they did in 2022. However, they also note that, despite the rise in cash needs, access to currency is growing increasingly more difficult.
More businesses are attempting to go cashless. Slower traffic and staffing concerns have some financial institutions closing branches. And ATMs numbers in the US have dropped by around 20,000 since 2019. So, how are members supposed to grab cash or have those important financial conversations?
ITMs offer one way to bridge the gap
Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) address some of the concerns when it comes to staffing branches. By relying on video communications and a CORE-integrated system, credit unions can centralize member services to a smaller team responsible for branch locations.
ITMs also help resolve some of the costs surrounding branch real estate by letting credit unions shrink their footprint. Instead of large locations with many teller lines and a vault, funds can be stored, counted, and distributed from a handful of ITMs.
But ITMs and branch transformation have their own expense. And some credit unions have begun to wonder if ITMs aren’t yet another piece of “old technology.” They may be a good investment for updating branch operations, but are they really the right choice for members on the go?
New technologies blend the digital and physical world for credit union members
How convenient is your credit union when you expect members to travel to a branch to deposit cash, withdraw cash, or even have a live conversation with credit union staff?
Credit union mobile apps are popular primarily because they eliminate the need for busy members to visit the branch for standard transactions. Any member with a smartphone who wants to transfer funds, check an account balance, deposit a check, or pay a bill can now do so without ever having to step foot from their home or office.
So why would members expect anything less when it comes to financial innovation?
When it comes to accessing cash, there are better, more affordable ways for credit unions to meet member needs. Institutions that want to leverage convenience without blowing their budgets might look to ATM outsourcing.
Outsourcing partners can help their credit union partners leverage retail locations or place machines in key areas to maximize convenience. Even better, they take care of all the ATM equipment costs and operational (compliance) headaches for a predictable monthly fee.
But solving the live conversation issue is a separate issue…or is it? New technology can help credit unions offer real connections at a standard ATM, directly from the credit union’s mobile app, website – or even by scanning a QR code on marketing materials.
New software solutions, built especially for credit unions, provides the member service centralization of an ITM without the equipment expense. Rather than heading to a physical location, members can scan a QR code and be presented with a custom landing page where they can select their preferred form of communication. The result? Members can communicate with credit union staff on their own terms – via chat, text, or even video – without any of that pesky extra effort to change out of their pajamas.
So, with a sudden increase in cash use and financial uncertainty, how should credit unions respond? One option is to spend the extra money to expand branches, ITMs, ATMs, and surcharge-free access. But not every credit union has that kind of money to spare. Fortunately, there are dependable options like ATM outsourcing and new technologies, that can help credit unions provide the kind of innovative convenience members crave.