Experts Help Credit Unions Survey the Emerging Technology Landscape at MAXX 2018


Patrick Schwerdtfeger, Founder of Trend Mastery, spoke about the dark sides of artificial intelligence on the main stage at MAXX 2018.

MAXX 2018 attendees had the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of technology experts last week during the Northwest Credit Union Association’s annual convention in Tacoma, Wash. Artificial intelligence and advancements in fintech were hot topics, and business partners gave attendees a close look at the latest in emerging technologies during the Strategic Link Trade Show.

“Our goal for MAXX 2018 was to bring high-caliber speakers that can offer insight relevant to our members’ technology needs,” said NWCUA Vice President Strategic Resources, Jason Smith. “MAXX brought those experts, and they truly set the bar for our future engagements.”

Three experts in artificial intelligence presented Oct. 17 during the “Artificial Intelligence is Here” session. Shazia Manus told the audience about the many industries where artificial intelligence is taking a lead role. Manus is the SVP and Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer with AdvantEdge Analytics, part of CUNA Mutual Group.

Artificial intelligence has current uses in healthcare, artistic applications, and in the food industry, she said. Within the financial services industry, she’s seen artificial intelligence used for fraud detection, to power chatbots for repetitive tasks, and used as robo-advisors for spending activities and personalized service.

Credit unions considering artificial intelligence commonly face certain challenges.

“Credit unions often are not equipped to integrate new technology,” Manus said. The main challenges include gaining access to data, finding qualified talent, and cost.

Shazia Manus MAXXS 2018

Shazia Manus, SVP & Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, AdvantEdge Analytics, CUNA Mutual Group, talks about what credit union leaders must know about machine learning.

When it comes to thinking about artificial intelligence strategically, Shahar Ziv, Director, Global Corporate Strategy at Paypal, recommended a focused approach.

“Artificial intelligence is a vehicle to deliver exceptional experiences, drive engagement, and reduce costs,” Ziv said. “Credit unions should view artificial intelligence as an opportunity more than a threat.”

It’s also advantageous for credit unions to look at fintech trends to gain a better understanding of what’s on the horizon and how to remain cutting edge.

For small and medium businesses that don’t have resources, Greg Palmer, Vice President, Fintech Strategy of Finovate, sees the use of fintech as a definite advantage.

“When it comes to managing cash flow and inventories, fintechs can tackle that instead of CFOs,” said Palmer. “It’s a win for businesses and credit unions who have them as customers. It can create intense loyalty and keep businesses afloat.”

Palmer cited the advantages of fintechs as driving member engagement, creating experiences, removing friction points, and reducing costs. Fintech makes financial inclusion possible for the underbanked, offers social benefits, and eases the customer experience and implementation of products and services. All the options can seem overwhelming; Palmer offered strategies for credit unions to push through.

“Learn what’s out there, think strategically about what would be best for your credit union,” he told attendees. “Leverage current tech providers. The startups and big providers are eager for business and if you push them, you will start to see success.”

Greg Palmer MAXX 2018

Greg Palmer, VP & Director of Fintech at Finovate, spoke to MAXX 2018 attendees about fintech and the global economy.

Paul Ablack, Founder and CEO of OnApproach offered another perspective on fintechs.

“Fintech is digital transformation of your business model,” he said, citing ubiquity, personalization, digital transformation, and data advantages, which allows credit unions to stay relevant to their members.

In addition to all the upsides of artificial intelligence and fintech activity, Patrick Schwerdtfeger, founder of Trend Mastery, told MAXX attendees he sees changes coming as tech evolves – some which could have negative implications.

He noted the creation of a monolithic artificial intelligence system that may develop so quickly, it could become impossible to catch up to it. He also touched on the Second Wave, a term used to describe technology that becomes so accessible and inexpensive that virtually anyone can use it – which could have a negative impact in some instances, depending on a person’s motives. The First Wave is considered to be the time when the internet was first used by the public.

Despite the possible downsides of technology, experts recommend that credit unions embrace it.

“Don’t wait to act,” said Palmer. “There’s a reason a customer banks with a credit union – fintech can help you do things you’re already doing, better.”

Manus offered that credit unions still have options when it comes to their technological choices.

“Artificial intelligence is here, and it will evolve in many different ways. We need it to evolve so it sets the goals and strategies we need today,” she said. “We choose the role it plays in our lives and businesses. At the end of the day we are its master, it’s not the master of us.”

Other Tech at MAXX 2018


Tim Pranger of POPio, a Strategic Link betaSpace partner specializing in video banking, networked with credit union leaders at the Strategic Link Trade Show at MAXX 2018.

There were many business partners at MAXX that introduced attendees to new tech during the Strategic Link Trade Show.

Gravity Payments, a merchant services provider, showed attendees how their credit card processing, point-of-sale systems, and eCommerce services can benefit credit unions and their members.

“We resonate with the mission of credit unions to serve their community business members,” said Gravity Payments Partnership Executive, Ethan Delamarter. “We work with small and medium businesses to set them up for success.”

POPio showcased its video banking services to attendees. “We’re the mortar that lets you fill in your distribution,” said POPio Founder and CEO, Gene Pranger. “With no branch and no physical discussion, it’s the most efficient way to deliver products and services.”

Eltropy showed credit union professionals how it can provide a secure and compliant way for them to engage their members through text messaging and leverage analytics to grow revenue.

“Credit unions appreciate being able to perform regular outreach through text such as sending newsletters, providing education, and special offers,” said Eltropy President and CEO, Ashish Garg. “They also have the ability to sell new products via text; our analytics help credit unions identify potential members, books loans, and more.”

Editor’s Note: If you would like more information about Strategic Link business partners, contact Jason Smith, NWCUA Vice President Strategic Resources, at Visit Strategic Link online for more information about your Association’s business partners. To see a full list of MAXX 2018 vendors, visit the Trade Show online.

Posted in MAXX Annual Convention.