The key problem with integration today is best explained in these eight painful truths about the modern credit union industry:
- Competition is fiercer than ever.
- Being competitive means credit unions need to bring members the access, products and services they want—which requires help from third-party providers.
- Each third-party provider requires integration into their core operating system.
- Almost all core operating systems require the use of a proprietary application program interface (API) that comes with a license fee.
- Every time integration takes place, credit unions pay significant fees for development and professional services.
- Vendors and core providers need to share member information back and forth to have a functional relationship.
- Almost all vendor-to-core integrations access the same fields, yet every integration requires its own development and professional services support.
- This duplicative cost is driving up operating expense (OPEX) and is overwhelming IT staff to the point where new technologies are put into long queues before they can be implemented.
The New Paradigm
Core providers need to accept that they do not own the member data; the credit union does. The core provider is the transaction machine to process member activity and store balances. In today’s industry, where a typical credit union manages 50 or more third-party vendors, it is simply unacceptable that core providers hold member data hostage with proprietary APIs and expensive barriers.
If vendors are going to insist that they not only hold a piece of the 360-degree member view, but also receive data sharing to and from the core system, then this data sharing must become faster and cheaper to enable.
To remove expensive, time-consuming proprietary integration APIs from the process, credit unions need to require all vendors, core and otherwise, to use an integration standard. In the healthcare and insurance industries, standardization has saved companies millions of dollars in integration expenses and enabled them to bring innovations that meet their customers’ needs to market much faster.
This is where the Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX) comes in. Spearheaded by CUNA Technology Council, CUFX is an ambitious initiative that seeks to end integration nightmares for credit unions nationwide by creating a single standard for the entire industry.
Five Steps to Become The Solution
- Demand your core provider accept CUFX Standard for all integrations.
- Include the use of CUFX Standard in all contracts that require integration.
- Choose vendors and core providers that actively accept CUFX as the integration standard.
- Talk to CUFX Standard (www.cufxstandard.com) before you sign a contract that requires integration.
- Contribute to this cooperative initiative designed to remove the costly, time-consuming barriers to core and vendor-to-vendor integrations for the entire credit union movement.
When we cooperate as a movement, we stand a chance to break the cycle of expensive integrations and to make credit union member data more accessible and available. Only by working together can we ease this burden and shift the paradigm towards acceptance that ALL member and transaction data is ours—and ours alone.