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A Look at Credit Union Technology Trends Shaped by the Pandemic and Here to Stay

The year 2020 demanded almost immediate evolution to adopt new technologies with the global pandemic driving an accelerated realignment of both customer-facing and back-end banking operations. Adapting to these bank and credit union technology trends requires agile digital solutions that not only shore up COVID-19-related losses, but moves financial institutions toward permanent changes that keep their customers safe, engaged, informed and satisfied in the new banking landscape.

Digitizing Money

At the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization issued a warning about banknotes possibly carrying and spreading the coronavirus. While this hasn’t been definitively tested, there is still a strong desire to minimize the risk transmission from both customers and front-line workers. Accenture reported that “a strong push toward a cashless society” is the top projected long-term impact of the pandemic in the banking world. Meanwhile, based on a consumer survey, MasterCard found that customers believe contactless payment options are “the cleaner way to pay.” 

Although customers had recently been slow to adopt touchless payment technology, the pandemic has caused many to start or increase the use of these payment methods. In fact, 30% of customers reduced or stopped using cash and other payment methods that require contact. As a result, retailers have begun introducing new point-of-sale systems to cater to this demand. Touchless technology can even reduce contact during physical money transactions. For example, ATMs equipped with near field communication capabilities allow customers to simply tap their debit cards on a sensor instead of punching in their PIN.

These trends point to a significant decline in the use of physical currency in the near future and beyond as people adopt mobile and other contactless digital forms of payment. To that end, banks and credit unions should focus their technology efforts on making these transactions more accessible (e.g., increasing daily and transaction-specific “tap limits”), as well as updating ATMs and in-bank devices with contactless capabilities.

New Ways of Connecting With Customers

The digital banking market has grown exponentially in the past decade with an estimated size of nearly $8 trillion in 2019 and the value of global digital payment transactions accounting for more than $700 trillion. Pre-pandemic projections estimated a compound annual growth rate of more than 6% from 2020 to 2026. However, this growth has accelerated significantly in recent months as social distancing initiatives have necessitated technological solutions that can adequately replace in-person interactions.  

Adapting to this new normal means that banks and credit unions have to expand the functionality and increase the efficiency of their digital services and platforms. Cloud-native platforms, for example, can allow financial institutions to scale and integrate their digital services quickly and cost-effectively while customer-facing technology such as video banking can keep customers connected with tellers, advisors, loan officers and other critical face-to-face services while staying safe.

AI for Empathy-Based Marketing

In spite of the social distance, customers are still looking for a high level of engagement, sufficient updates, useful advice and relevant marketing. The needs of a 22-year-old customer who hardly came into the branch before the pandemic are considerably different from an elderly customer who goes in to deposit their check at the teller window every week.

In the same vein, the marketing that banks and credit unions utilize needs to be customer-centric, as well. For example, financial institutions may not need to do a full national marketing campaign about a new loan product for business owners affected by COVID-19, but a targeted outreach program that identifies and engages with customers who’s banking history indicates they could use the assistance could be a better use of limited resources.

In both cases, using artificial intelligence to analyze the huge amounts of customer data that banks and credit unions collect can help them rapidly identify customers who fit the criteria for certain services, products or marketing campaigns. Financial institutions can proactively provide financial solutions, increasing up- and cross-selling opportunities while customers will feel taken care of. This will increase loyalty and retention.

In a post-pandemic world, customers will still want to feel that banks and credit unions have their best interests at heart. As opposed to just using marketing channels to sell products, those same channels can be leveraged to support customers during difficult times. Banks and credit unions that take advantage of AI to offer struggling customers the ability to skip a payment or receive a short-term loan before they have to ask can bring peace of mind and stability that then allows customers to get back on track.

Looking Backward to Look Forward

A decades’ worth of changes occurred over the course of 2020, leading to significant shifts in customer behavior and bank and credit union technology trends. COVID-19 has required financial institutions to rethink their digital strategies and retool their operational models. 

That’s why it’s imperative that banks and credit unions work with technology partners that understand the importance of prioritizing customer centricity in a digital framework. Lumin Digital can help you navigate this new digital banking world and ensure that your technology serves your customers through 2021 and beyond.

Lauren Treadwell is a fintech writer and enthusiast specializing in cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, innovative investment strategies and financial service startups.


  1. Bill Gardner, “Dirty banknotes may be spreading the coronavirus, WHO suggests,” The Telegraph, March 2, 2020.
  2. Sulabh Agarwal,  “The Top Eight Ways Covid-19 Will Impact Payments,” Accenture, April 27, 2020. https://Bankingblog.Accenture.Com/Top-Eight-Ways-Covid-19-Will-Impact-Payments
  3. Contactless Infographic, Mastercard, 2020.
  4. Katrina Cuthell, Gerard du Toit, Joe Fielding and Nikola Glusac, “More Digital, More Flex: Retail Banking Behavior amid Covid-19,” September 08, 2020.
  5. Preeti Wadhwani, Sachin Kasnale, “Digital Banking Market Size By Type (Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, Investment Banking)…,” October 2020.