Emerging technology continues as essential focus area in Filene’s research agenda

The center of excellence for emerging technology is extended for a three-year project

MADISON, WI (June 18, 2020) — Filene Research Institute is relaunching its Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology for another three years. The focus of this research is to connect credit unions with the most impactful technology and consumer trends. As technology use and consumer trends continue to evolve, it is essential that the work of this research center continues so that credit unions have current resources, tools and strategies for navigating the intersection of financial services and emerging technology in a concrete and actionable manner.

Dr. Bill Maurer, dean, School of Social Sciences; professor, Department of Anthropology & School of Law; and director, Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion at the University of California—Irvine will continue in his role as Research Fellow for the Center for Emerging Technology.

“Filene’s Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology conducts applied research to map the impacts of emerging technologies in order to prepare credit unions for the shifting competitive landscape of consumer financial services,” said Filene’s EVP + Chief Research and Development Officer George Hofheimer. “Trends toward digital delivery of credit union products and services have been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit unions will need to keep up with and meet consumers expectations for digital financial services.”

In 2020, digital channels have become the preferred way to interact with financial organizations—73% of U.S. adults report being more likely to use digital financial services during the pandemic and there has been a 50% increase in the use of mobile banking apps from 2019. To enable future technology and business decisions, the Center for Emerging Technology will address the impacts of new financial technologies on business strategy and operations, politics and regulation, and consumers’ experience and expectations.

The research produced by Filene’s Fellows builds on the deep archive of past learning and offers a foundation for future incubation, innovation, and ultimately impactful action. Specific projects in this Center will encompass:

  • Identifying technology table-stakes and trade-offs in regard to financial services competitors
  • Studying consumer uses of and trust in new and novel financial technologies
  • Documenting future trends in automation, artificial intelligence and member experience to understand how core financial products are being reinvented for self-service delivery
  • Outlining specific pathways for credit union-fintech partnerships
  • Evaluating the opportunity for meeting the emerging needs of non-traditional workers
  • Exploring the future of identity and authentication

Generous support for the Center for Emerging Technology is provided by long-time continuing sponsor CO-OP Financial Services, as well as State National Companies and Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC).

“At CO-OP we have been investing in our own digital transformation since 2016, which is the same year we announced our support as a lead sponsor for the Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology,” said Samantha Paxson, Chief Experience Officer, for CO-OP. “The need to aggregate divergent financial services into daily member engagement has only increased since then, and has accelerated since the onset of the pandemic. The output of the Center has never been more important and we are delighted to lend our support for another three years.”

The Center for Emerging Technology, together with Filene’s cadre of Centers of Excellence, form the pillars of Filene’s research agenda seeking to advance consumer financial wellness by transforming cooperative finance and move credit unions forward. Each is led by an academic researcher at the top of their field and advised by a trusted community of leaders from the credit union system.

“As a partner to hundreds of credit unions for nearly half a century, we have seen firsthand how the business model, operations, mission, and values of the cooperative finance/credit union structure has a unique flavor not found in any other type of financial institution,” said State National Companies’ Executive Vice President, Trace Ledbetter. “Off-the-shelf technology solutions made for other types of businesses often don’t fit with their processes or provide the member experience credit unions are devoted to offering. That’s why the work of Filene’s Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology is so incredibly important in helping credit unions gain access to advanced technology that achieves their specific goals, enhances their growth, and serves their members well. We know how critical developing just the right technology has been for our own company’s growth, and that makes us especially excited to offer our support and contribute to technological advancements that will help credit unions succeed in a competitive marketplace and rapidly changing world.”

Credit unions and system partners have an opportunity to get involved as part of Filene’s Inner Circle by sponsoring Emerging Technology or any other research center, much like these strategic partner organizations already have.

“DCUC is committed to providing the right information and tools to our members so that they continue to succeed now and in the future. Our support of Filene’s Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology is an important part of this commitment,” said Tony Hernandez, president/CEO of DCUC. “It is also important that any technology adopted by credit unions be inclusive of the unique circumstances faced by our military and veterans, to include those who must maintain high security clearances and those who are wounded/disabled. We look forward to facilitating the flow of information both ways and to making the credit union industry stronger together.”

About Filene Research Institute

Filene Research Institute strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial well-being. As an independent cooperative finance think tank, Filene’s membership network connects a community of leaders and bright minds to change lives through innovation, truth and cooperation. In addition to delivering cutting-edge, actionable academic research, Filene also provides incubators to test and scale solutions, events to spark organizations into action and advisory services to help accelerate and implement innovation. For more information, visit and @fileneresearch.


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