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Sooper Credit Union Shores Up its Tech Stack to Better Serve Members

Ease of integrations start with your core.
Sooper Credit Union

Sooper Credit Union is in that in-between spot: It’s not huge for a credit union, but at $657 million it isn’t small either. Chief Innovation Officer Nate Rogers said his credit union is looking to leverage automation to the greatest extent it can for a better member service experience. It was looking for flexible, streamlined and secure integrations that would help the credit union remain competitive with fintechs for speedy account opening. A lot of that was dependent upon its core processor. Good thing Sooper was on Prodigy.

Quote icon of man with glasses

For the younger generations, it’s all about the speed and ease of opening a new account with the fintechs and not calling it a checking account — and definitely not a share draft account.”

- Sooper CU, CIO Nate Rogers

Defining The Issue

Sooper Credit Union needed flexibility to work with any third-party vendors it wanted to. Sooper Chief Innovation Officer Nate Rogers also shared that the credit union was building an in-house team to develop its own software connections within Prodigy’s APIs. The credit union was willing to roll up its sleeves to accomplish everything it possibly could to get what it wanted to serve its members. It needed its business partners to do the same.

Rogers explained that Sooper wanted to move to MeridianLink for its account opening and loan origination system, but first it needed to ensure the connection with its Prodigy core would be as tight as possible. While this case study focuses on an integration between MeridianLink and Prodigy, Rogers’ key tips could apply to any integration.

“Many credit unions don’t ask for exactly what they need,” Rogers observed, “and therefore the vendors do not provide it. The existing MeridianLink integration off the shelf wasn’t going to work for us. MeridianLink was very honest with us about what existed and what didn’t.”

“We didn’t just want a form that took an application; we wanted it to take everything all the way through the process and create the best scale we could get out of the automation from the system. The biggest thing for us was asking for it in the beginning, with MeridianLink in this case, clearly defining what our end goal was and being tenacious about it.”

Nate's Pro Tip #1

Don’t assume what you see in a demo is what you will get. Business partners aren’t trying to deceive you, but they are trying to show you the best possible version of their platform.

The demo version could have all kinds of extras that you can get – and pay dearly for. Be sure to ask a lot of questions and the right questions during the decision- making process.

Nate's Pro Tip #2

Credit unions often underestimate their role in the process of making sure the technology works. We were guilty of that, even though we really planned and prepared as much as we possibly could, but you have to be dedicated to completing your part of the implementation, testing things and sharing what does and doesn’t work in your environment.

Be tenacious.

Fighting the FinTechs

Rogers added, a conversion this big and connections this significant took a good bit of heavy lifting from the credit union, too. It’s critical to dedicate the time, he advised, to testing everything as requested within the timeframe requested to ensure a smooth and successful partnership and outcome.

Citing an article from The Financial Brand, Rogers said that the rate fintechs are gaining on more traditional financial institutions is staggering. The common problem for credit unions is the old-school process of opening a new account, he said.

“Credit unions need to prepare themselves with the right technology while they still can. For the younger generations,” he said, “it’s all about the speed and ease of opening a new account with the fintechs and not calling it a checking account — and definitely not a share draft account.”

Evolving the CU

For Sooper, the biggest change will be offering online applications for both loans and accounts and automating them as much as possible from start to finish. “Previously, a loan application landed in Prodigy and then we had to manually underwrite, manually collect all documents, manually communicate with a member, manually move it into funding,” Rogers said.

“Now members get an instant response regarding a loan, whether it’s approved or being worked on. They instantly get access to a portal for uploading documents that go right into the workflow.

“From the account-opening side, we did have a digital account opening platform, but it didn’t interface with Prodigy, so we could take an application, but then we had to manually retype everything and send out the DocuSign for signature. Now, all of that will happen in one flow.

There’s still some human intervention that needs to happen on some items, but it’s much quicker and more automated.”

Benefits of automation with such a tight integration include:

  • Better member service by saving time and reducing friction for members waiting on loan applications or funding for an account
  • Improved team focus on more ‘human’ tasks, like serving members who need a little extra
  • Decreasing the chances for human errors introduced by manually retyping data into the core
  • Enhanced compliance to ensure all the right questions are asked and documentation is kept in one place

While there are still a few items on Sooper’s wish list, Rogers said they’re excited to go live now.

Digging the Services

Although the partners had been planning on the integrations for well over a year, the actual work of production didn’t start until the beginning of 2023. “For what is essentially a complete rework of the interface end to end for the lending and account opening, to accomplish that, in seven months is huge,” Rogers acknowledged. “Prodigy jumped right in and made themselves available for meetings with MeridianLink. They’ve done a good job getting things up and running for us.”

One of the critical differentiators of Prodigy is the flexibility and scalability of the cloud-based core processor. Prodigy can work with any business partner a credit union wants to use to serve their members the way they want to be served. Sooper takes great advantage of this freedom beyond its partnership with MeridianLink to include other Prodigy integrations, like Datava and Q2.

Seeing the Future

Sooper is raring to go on a number of projects to up its digital game. The credit union spent the last year prepping a lot of data using Datava. That work will help them take full advantage of the credit union’s new CRM to gather data from the core, as well as survey data, to get a more complete picture of each member. The credit union is also moving its cards to PSCU’s full-service credit card offering necessitating another integration.

Nate's Pro Tip #3

Leveraging a CRM helps credit unions get around their householding issue. Banks use an account-based structure to see into customers’ total household business with them, but credit unions have an issue because of the membership-based structure. It’s difficult to get at household value. Using a CRM solves that.

Sooper isn’t stopping at that. The credit union is adding its own development team internally to really take advantage of Prodigy’s robust API and Software Development Kit library. Rogers said Sooper’s team is already at work on some smaller dev projects to build its own interfaces into third parties, and eventually plans to make custom tweaks, such as adding bits of data the credit union wants to provide to members in its online banking interface. For example, he explained, a credit union might want to display different information about a member’s home equity line of credit, such a rate changes, than it would for a car loan.

“That’s the advantage of the world we live in today,” Rogers marveled, “Just five or 10 years ago, connecting these disparate technologies was a lot more complicated than it is now. In the past, if you did that kind of development, you were out there on your own with security and handling how things function. Now, because the APIs are pre-built in an SDK, that gives us a framework to work within and keeps us within the framework of control. That’s the flexibility Prodigy provides, which will also save us months of time and thousands for each project.”

Leading The Way

Prodigy is leading a movement to revolutionize what credit unions think core processors can do. Fully cloud-based, Prodigy is on a mission to democratize modern technology and bring leading-edge products and services to credit unions of all sizes. What that means is the CUSO can serve credit unions large and small with an open architecture for flexibility, scalability and superior integrations at lower costs to best serve members.
Amber Harsin

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