The demand for simplified banking services is rising, as customers expect fast, convenient access to financial products. Corporate and retail consumers alike are increasingly drawn to Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) because it offers a more convenient, accessible, integrated, and inclusive approach to finance products that they seek.
BaaS has captured the attention of businesses across industries as it enables them to seamlessly embed financial products and services within the customer experience (CX), whether it’s an e-commerce platform, a healthcare app, or a ride-sharing service. BaaS eliminates the need for customers to go through multiple channels or platforms to manage their finances, demonstrating the increasingly interconnected and digital-first nature of the global financial ecosystem.
For credit unions, BaaS has become a great equalizer, enabling them to benefit from collaboration to better align their financial products with a dynamic market and emerge as BaaS leaders alongside larger peers.
Key trends shaping the BaaS landscape
- Integrating financial services into platforms has become a strategic digital transformation imperative to meet consumer expectations for all-in-one solutions while focusing on core competencies.
- Open banking regulations that require banks to open up their data and infrastructure to authorized third parties to foster collaboration and innovation within the financial ecosystem has enabled businesses to leverage BaaS to deliver enhanced services.
- Fintech disruption of traditional banking models has helped pave the way for BaaS and opened up a pathway for collaboration with banks.
- Consumer desire for seamless integration of financial products into their preferred applications and platforms has driven the popularity of end-to-end financial experiences.
- The demand for seamless, embedded financial experiences via integration of financial services into non-financial platforms and applications.
- The increasingly competitive financial services landscape requires banks to seek new ways to differentiate themselves and deliver new value propositions to customers.
Many smaller FIs are leveraging BaaS to enhance client loyalty, support corporate payment demands, and secure their role in the future of banking. Credit unions, for example, have advantages, like agility, localized expertise, personalized customer relationships, and trustworthy reputations, to empower their ability to capability on BaaS.
BaaS is the stepping stone smaller FIs need to align their financial products with emerging customer segments and markets to generate more revenue and diversify their customer pool.
Strategic approaches for credit unions to offer BaaS
In a BaaS model, a chartered FI partners with a fintech or non-financial business so the partner can offer financial products to their customers. It’s a win-win for both parties: partners don’t have to get a banking license or implement a banking infrastructure, and credit unions can reach a wider customer base at a lower cost.
Credit unions can embrace BaaS through two different approaches:
Partnering with a BaaS provider (indirect)
- The credit union collaborates with a BaaS provider to use their technology, infrastructure and services.
- The credit union integrates with the provider’s platform and uses its capabilities to offer banking services to fintechs or businesses.
- The credit union acts as a facilitator, opening up access to the BaaS provider’s services and serving as a link between the provider and the partner business.
- The credit union can then extend its offerings, drive additional revenue, and benefit from the BaaS provider’s expertise and advanced technologies.
Transforming into a BaaS provider (direct)
- The credit union can become a BaaS provider itself, developing its own cohesive BaaS platform and the corresponding technology, infrastructure and services.
- The credit union’s BaaS platform is made available to fintechs and businesses so they can deliver financial products and services within their own brand.
- The credit union acts as the service provider, offering banking capabilities, compliance support and infrastructure to its partners.
- The credit union can then leverage its current resources, fuel innovation, vary its revenue, and reinvent its institution as a strategic partner in the financial ecosystem.
Making a decision between these two different BaaS approaches depends on the credit union’s business objectives, technology capabilities, resources, regulatory environment, and how much control it wants over BaaS operations.
But credit unions that launch their own BaaS platforms are benefiting from new revenue streams through two key monetization strategies: charging clients for every individual service, or charging clients for access to the BaaS platform on a monthly basis.
Protecting BaaS from complex threats
Whichever approach credit unions choose to capitalize on the BaaS model, they must make risk management and compliance their top priority. We strongly advise preparing for every possible business and legal implication before they enter a BaaS arrangement.
Though not an exhaustive list, below are some best practices to incorporate into a BaaS framework:
- Evaluate potential BaaS partners, including their reputation, operational capabilities, and security measures.
- Frequently evaluate the BaaS partner for AML risk and transaction monitoring.
- Invest in robust fraud detection systems that are purpose-built for the needs of credit unions to enable comprehensive, intelligent fraud prevention and risk management.
- Improve payment fraud detection and prevention with behavioral analysis and transaction monitoring capabilities, in addition to real-time fraud detection algorithms.
- Ensure compliance is maintained with all AML and KYC regulations via machine learning-driven risk scoring, integrated customer risk ratings, and intelligently aggregated data.
Credit unions must view BaaS as another facet of their holistic digital transformation agendas rather than a segregated initiative. Remember, the potential of BaaS isn’t exclusive to larger FIs, but an opportunity for every organization within the financial ecosystem if approached with meaningful consideration for all business implications and possible risks.
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