If you find yourself spending a great deal of time and money managing the inefficient systems integration process required to connect applications to core processing systems, you’re not alone. Over the years, credit unions, application providers, core processors and credit union service organizations (CUSOs) have spent approximately $250 million integrating and maintaining the connectivity between systems.
Credit Union Financial Exchange, or CUFX, an initiative to create a new technology standard for integrating credit union-specific software, aims to change all this. Led by the CUNA Technology Council, CUFX is an open, vendor agnostic integration standard that will make it faster and more cost-effective for application providers and CUSOs to connect to core processing systems. The goal of the initiative is to help credit unions quickly deliver new solutions to members and provide a positive and consistent experience across channels.
Baxter Credit Union in Vernon Hills, Illinois, is taking steps to reduce the heavy investments demanded by this process. The $1.8 billion credit union led the way as the first credit union to take the CUFX standards live. BCU’s senior vice president of information technology, Jeff Johnson, is one of the leading minds behind the CUFX initiative. As current vice chair of the CUNA Technology Council, he has been involved since the project’s early stages when, among potential core vendors, only one had committed, and the survival of the effort hinged on the participation of the rest. The CUNA Technology Council stepped up and, through working with CTO roundtables and various vendors, was able to get CUFX off the ground.
Now, with the participation of four core processors and the completion of its second major release earlier this month, which introduced online account opening to its set of integration standards, CUFX is poised for success. Participants have contributed $305,000 to support the project in the past year while the CUFX organization has grown from only a handful of hopeful visionaries to a team of over 200 members, including leaders from across the industry.
Currently, the working groups involved are assembling a third release of CUFX that will address online banking, mobile banking and IVR to fast track credit unions, core systems and vendors’ ability to create an integrated online and mobile experience for members. They will meet in September of this year, in tandem with the CUNA Technology Council Conference, to finalize specifications for the release.
While individual standards projects are moving along, real progress will not occur until we, as a movement, can integrate processes on a greater scale. To reach that scale, vendors and credit unions alike will need to adopt and embrace the effort. Making this initiative a priority is necessary if we’re going to bring the others along.
Here are the best ways to get involved and be a part of the solution:
- Provide expertise ‐ Above all else, this initiative is a group effort. The CUFX initiative needs vendor and credit union professionals to participate on working groups (business and technical) and credit union software architects to work on the Architecture Committee.
- Provide feedback – From within the initiative, CUFX working groups have limited data as to whether their efforts are effective. Feedback on specifications from credit unions and vendors ensure that the right issues are being addressed.
- Provide financial support ‐ Financial contributions enable the initiative to employ dedicated directors and architects, solidifying CUFX as a secure and growing entity.
- Adopt the standards ‐ The bottom line for CUFX exists to serve credit unions, processors and vendors and requires all parties to adopt and embrace its integration standards. Commitment to utilizing the standards once they are introduced creates the growth and scale that makes the initiative worthwhile.