Enhance Members’ Financial Lives? Innovations at ‘FinovateSpring’ Can Point the Way

Industry leaders and hot young startups get seven minutes each to pitch their ideas at the FinovateSpring conference.


Justin Martin believes there are two questions that everyone in the credit union industry should be asking: How can we better interact with our members? And what products will help us enhance their lives financially?

Potential answers to those questions will be unveiled at the FinovateSpring 2014 conference in April, Martin believes, and that’s why Verity Credit Union’s chief human resources and marketing officer has booked his ticket to San Jose.

“There are a lot of smart people out there with a lot of great ideas,” Martin says. “Finovate provides a forum to interact with these people, and to get a pulse on the direction the industry is heading.”

More than 70 companies will get seven minutes each to pitch the latest innovations in financial and banking technology at FinovateSpring 2014, and the Northwest Credit Union Association is offering a special registration discount now for member credit unions that would like to hear those ideas.

The conference, scheduled for April 29-30, will take place just five minutes from the San Jose, Calif., airport at the San Jose Civic. More than 1,300 financial executives, venture capitalists, reporters, industry analysts, bloggers and fintech entrepreneurs are expected to attend.

Over the course of two days, attendees will hear from a hand-picked group of industry leaders and hot young startups, each of whom will get seven minutes on stage to introduce theirlatest and greatest innovation. Ideas generally run the gamut of financial technology, from debit rewards, alternative payments and security solutions to new marketing tools, youth banking and next-generation online platforms. No slides or pre-recorded videos are allowed.

Following afternoon demonstrations on both days, informal networking sessions will provide an opportunity to meet face-to-face with senior executives from the participating companies. Last year, presenters ranged from Amazon, Google and Microsoft to FamZoo, Escardgot and Virtual Piggy.

“Clienteling. O2O. Merged Identities. Say those three together, and you could be talking about a sci-fi film,” says Colleen Boccia, senior vice president for marketing and chief deposit officer at Columbia Credit Union, who’ll also be attending FinovateSpring. “But we’re not. We’re talking about innovation! At Finovate, I’ll be looking for innovation around gathering member preferences (in branch and online), and elegant ways to use that information to customize and enhance our members’ experiences.”

Michelle Thor, Columbia’s vice president for outreach and social responsibility, says she’s going to FinovateSpring in search of “financial solutions to serve business members, focusing on areas that can increase their productivity, ease money management or better serve their customer needs.”

“Columbia Credit Union partners with numerous nonprofits,” Thor says, “many of which do not have adequate resources. So I’ll also be looking for solutions that will support their fundraising efforts or the financial aspects of their operations.”

Verity’s Martin says he’s excited about the networking opportunities. “It will be great to get in a room full of people who are transforming our industry,” he says, because innovation plays such an important role at the Seattle-area credit union.

“Our mission is to enhance our members’ lives through exceptional financial services,” Martin says. “We feel that in order to do this, we need to have a culture that promotes innovation — one that pushes us to not be complacent with where we are, but to really focus on where our members want us to go. And new products play an important role in this process. It’s pretty exciting when you start to look at the future possibilities.” 

Kim Vu, the NWCUA’s vice president for community investment and social impact, will be leading a delegation of Northwest credit union executives to FinovateSpring 2014. So far, five credit unions are on board — but there’s still plenty of room for more.

Using a special discount code, NWCUA members can receive 25 percent off the price of registration for the conference. Registration is normally $1,495; NWCUA members can sign up now for $1,121.25. To get the code (or, if you’ve already registered, to be included in the Association’s related events), contact Vu at 206.340.4818 or kvu@nwcua.org.

“The Association is delighted to offer this unique invitation to our Northwest credit unions to experience first-hand what is coming around the corner in emerging financial technologies,” Vu says. “FinovateSpring is a great place to connect with the startups and major companies that are changing the way consumers engage with their finances, potentially impacting how we serve our members in the future.”

Questions? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org

Posted in Events, NWCUA.