Convention Speaker to Highlight Credit Unions’ ‘Extraordinary Opportunity’ to Win

Salim Ismail gets excited when he talks about the “street fight” credit unions are in with big banks and regulators.  He is emphatic that credit unions can win by using technology to connect with consumers.

The entrepreneur and angel investor has taken at least eight early-stage companies from zero to success at rapid speed.  He was a vice president at Yahoo in charge of the company’s internal “idea factory.”  He is a co-founder of Confabb, an online resource that organizes convention and trade show events and speakers.   He is one of the masterminds behind Singularity University, an intense think tank training already brilliant minds to manage exponentially growing technologies.

Ismail believes fast moving technology provides credit unions with a huge opportunity.  He will share that vision during what promises to be a high-energy presentation to delegates at the Northwest Credit Union Association’s (NWCUA) Convention & Annual Business Meeting in September.

A preview of his message might whet the appetites of credit union industry leaders.

On a recent YouTube video, Ismail is seen holding a cell phone, explaining his belief that technology has changed the way humans are wired emotionally.  “This is where all of our relationships are,” he told the videographer.  “So many of our relationships are digital.”

In his convention address, he will challenge credit unions to leverage technology to solidify those digital relationships, and point to successful models that give consumers what they want and need.

“I keep telling credit unions to pick the best ideas, and to put their label on them to connect members with merchants. Isn’t eighty percent of our money spent locally?  Why give it to Groupon,” he asks.

Ismail said the on-line discount coupon vendor is being copied by 1,600 “clones.”  Groupon may have an antagonistic relationship with merchants because their fees are so high, yet consumers love Groupon. He is confounded that so many businesses are missing the boat by not using technologies to build lasting consumer relationships.

Credit unions have not lost their personal touch and still have an opportunity to innovate, according to Ismail. He believes innovation stops when companies get too big.  He’s so sure of that theory that he laid himself off from his job at Yahoo.   

“Technologies are moving so fast; these big companies can’t keep up. It’s like a calcification,” he says, “that makes them lose their nimbleness.” 

It happened to Yahoo, it happened to government, and Ismail believes, Facebook will have the same fate.

Survival in the fast-moving internet and technology age is dependent on two factors:  trust and community.  Ismail believes credit unions have both.

“Credit unions have the most extraordinary opportunity to establish themselves as the heart of their communities,” he says. “Newspapers used to be that, but their business model fell apart because they could not keep up with technology.  Credit unions have the potential and even the obligation to step in and fill that role.”

Salim Ismail’s address will highlight convention activities the morning of Wednesday, September 21, 2011.

Register for the NWCUA Convention & Annual Business Meeting now.


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Posted in MAXX Annual Convention.