Robotic process automation: Why – and why now?

It should come as no surprise that credit unions don’t earn member loyalty through their technology. That loyalty is instead inspired by the people members interact with at their credit unions. While virtually anyone can open an account at a mega bank, members choose credit unions because of the intangibles… the sense of community and the human touch.

Why, then is robotic process automation (RPA) worth discussing and worth adopting – and why now? After all, if warm, personalized service is what differentiates credit unions, wouldn’t RPA strip credit unions of the qualities their members treasure most? Actually, to the contrary, RPA has the potential to help credit unions strengthen their personal service and member experience in several significant ways.

RPA Allows People to Be People

What RPA can’t do is completely replace humans. That’s because it doesn’t have a mind of its own. For this reason, bots can’t act maliciously or make decisions based on free will. Instead, they can only do what humans tell them to do.

To put it simply, a bot’s job is to perform a specific task based on specific rules. Let’s say your credit union needs to find all loans that were collateralized by coin collections. A bot can access multiple systems, cross reference data and quickly generate a list of accounts that meet those criteria. What may take a person 20 minutes, logging in and out of multiple platforms, can take just seconds for a bot.

Bots take care of tedious, data-driven tasks to allow people to shine doing what they do best, whether that’s engaging with members, completing analyses that go beyond data, devising strategy, leading teams – or even answering the phone in person.

RPA Enables Credit Unions to Be Flexible

Because people also have human moments – a time of bereavement, extended leave, a sudden crisis (like a pandemic!) or even just a hard day – RPA can be in place to help keep the credit union running while people tend to their very human sides of life. Bots give credit unions the flexibility they need to keep the ship afloat while experiencing anything from staffing shortages to team meetings.

RPA can also help the credit union move and change faster. With technology in place, as well as the people needed to run it, credit unions are better able to launch initiatives to respond to and anticipate evolving member needs and to create the solutions they need to stay competitive.

RPA Can Minimize Error

Where RPA truly shines is in data gathering and processing, tasks in which humans are highly prone to error. In looking at wire processes as an example – recording, sending and archiving wire transfers requires multiple back-and-forth steps, all of which provide the opportunity to introduce human error. A bot can perform the entire task flawlessly and quickly, helping the credit union to improve accuracy and, with it, member satisfaction.

RPA Helps Credit Unions to Attract and Retain Talent 

In the throes of the Great Resignation, people are feeling more empowered in having a say in what their work environment is going to look like. This means corporations and credit unions alike are having to figure out how to make it attractive for talented people to come in and how to retain them. Robotic process automation enables a credit union to push down employment barriers that existed in years past – such as living in one state and working in another. With RPA, you can open up your credit union to capture and keep great talent, so you’re better positioned for the future.

RPA Makes Credit Unions More Competitive

When credit unions have the technology they need to work more efficiently, they are also freed to more closely examine member needs and to develop products, services and solutions that can help credit unions compete with even the largest banks. In this way, technology can help credit unions reach, attract and serve more people than ever before.

With all that RPA can do for people, it may be easier now to see that the introduction of robotic process automation will not bring about a mass exodus of jobs. Remember that there was a fear, decades ago, that desktops would take away people’s jobs. Instead, desktops transformed those jobs, freeing people to do other tasks and work more intelligently. In the same way, RPA will simply change what people do and empower them to invest more in their uniquely human talents.

To learn more about CU NextGen, visit or call 1-800-311-3928.

Kent Zimmer

Kent Zimmer

Kent is no stranger to the ever-changing needs of credit unions and the rapidly evolving financial services marketplace. He helped lead Members Development Company – one of CU NextGen’s co-founders – ... Web: Details