Impact of the Digital Age on Credit Unions

Michael Ogden

Rick Uhlmann

CUNA Mutual Group’s SVP John Lass to ACUC Audience: Are We at a Tipping Point?

SAN DIEGO – The digital age has changed the way we read, listen to music and do business. And the effects of our digital lives are having an enormous impact on the credit union system. “Are we at a tipping point?”

That question was at the center of a powerful presentation Monday, at CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC). John Lass, CUNA Mutual Group senior vice president, Strategy and Business Development, presented a Thought Leader Session, “Building the Credit Union of the Future.”

Lass raised the issue that “the credit union system could be in the midst of a ‘strategic inflection point’ due to rapid changes in the competitive landscape, digital technology and customer channel preferences.” A strategic inflection point is a major shift in an industry’s competitive dynamic.

“A strategic inflection point is a period when we have to take a close look at the way we’ve been doing business for so many years,” said Lass.

Lass explained strategic inflection points in more detail for the audience using examples from the movie, music and publishing industries. For instance, after Apple launched iTunes in 2003, the music industry rapidly evolved into the digital age and, since then, 2,700 record stores have closed.

“iTunes is a vivid example of the music industry caught off guard by the digital movement and as a result, the CD and record industry has been hit with devastating losses.”

There were more examples of strategic inflection points given by Lass – Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Kindle vs. bookstores and the rapid decline of Kodak due to the explosion of digital camera sales.

“The key point here is that digital and mobile technologies all played roles in these industry tipping points,” said Lass. “The credit union system now faces the challenges, but also the opportunities of incorporating digital convenience into the cooperative model.”

“Unlike the music industry, the cooperative model provides credit unions with powerful competitive advantages.” Lass continued, “There are some tremendously successful examples of credit unions embracing the ‘do-it-yourself’ banking, and it’s paying off for their institutions and their customers.”

Lass finished the presentation stating, “The challenge for our industry is to adapt to the new competitive dynamic without sacrificing our powerful core values and attributes.”

The 2012 America’s Credit Union Conference in San Diego features a lineup of America’s best business speakers who will spark inspiration, big plans and positive change for the credit union system.

Be sure to follow CUNA Mutual Group on Google+ at CUNA Mutual Group and on Twitter at @CUDiscovery for the latest updates before, during and after ACUC.

Remember to save the date for the 2012 Online Discovery Conference Oct. 9. This is a free and virtual, one-day experience focused entirely on credit unions. Participants attend from the convenience of their computer; saving time and money. Register for free at

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance

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