By Ray Birch
GLASTONBURY, Conn.—Credit unions often express fear over the threat from artificial intelligence, but one person says the wealth of data credit unions have on their members will make CUs stronger competitors to big banks and fintechs in the coming years.
“When people talk about AI, it’s associated with drilling down through crazy amounts of data and finding unique things,” said Fran Duggan, CEO of Payrailz. “When you talk about the power of AI, any good machine needs fuel to run, and credit unions have the best fuel out there when it comes to AI—the member data that’s inherent inside the CU.
Duggan said the definition of AI is it’s productive and proactive.
“AI is more than just a data analytics,” he said. “We are using AI at Payrailz to change the payments experience of members.”
Duggan emphasized what members get from AI should be a lot more than prettier mobile screens.
“For example, you’re headed home on a Friday and is the first thing you want to do when you get home open your bills and pay them? No. People hate paying bills. People should use the power of AI to tackle the things they don’t like doing.”
Who Wants to Pay Bills?
Duggan said Payrailz is offering credit unions a payments service that leverages AI to make bill payment, P2P and A2A money transfer activities a lot simpler for members.
“So, people don’t like to go home and pay their bills, worry about which bills to pay, which may be late, and do I have enough money to pay a bill,” said Duggan. “What if the credit union could do that on behalf of its members? They know how much money you have, how you like to transact, when and how you get paid, when the bills are coming in …
“Wouldn’t it be much more convenient if the credit union sent you a push notification that says, ‘We know you have five bills coming up in the next couple weeks. You get paid next Thursday. Would you like us to have these bills set up to be paid?’” continued Duggan. “With a simple press of a button on your mobile screen you can set up all your bills to be paid for you.”
Duggan emphasized that kind of service adds a great deal of value to the member relationship.
“All of a sudden the credit union is back to being that central point in members’ financial lives—members are reliant upon the credit union,” Duggan said. “Credit unions can become the private banker for the common folks. The credit union can do things like tell you that you don’t have enough money in your checking account to pay a bill and offer to transfer money over from savings. This is changing the entire member experience.”
The Payrailz service also helps members negotiate lower bill payments with various providers through a partnership with Boston-based Billshark.
Duggan emphasized again how the service fits well with credit unions.
“Credit unions know what their members are doing, how they transact, where they spend their money. They have not unlocked the deep member data in their core systems, and that is where AI is the game changer,” Duggan said.
What One CU is Doing
As CUToday.info previously reported here, the Tampa, Fla.-based Suncoast Credit Union has rolled out the new payment service from Payrailz.
According to the Payrailz, Suncoast Credit Union has an in-house innovation department dedicated to mobile and online banking development and decided to partner with Payrailz to gain specialized expertise in payments and to help chart its defined roadmap for the future.
“We prioritize adding value to our members through enhanced services, particularly in ways that simplify their lives by improving their user experience,” said Ted Hassenfelt, CIO at Suncoast Credit Union. “Partnering with Payrailz fits with our digital strategy to provide the best service to our more than 200,000 electronic bill payments each month, and numerous member-to-member and account-to-account transfers.”