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Nish Modi is Senior Vice President, Digital and Business Intelligence Strategy & Product, for CO-OP Financial Services, a provider of payments and financial technology to credit unions. 

Like many of today’s financial institutions, credit unions are facing intense competitive pressure to offer fast, digital, and personalized experiences to their members. In no other area of banking is this truer than payments. Whether moving money with a card, digital wallet, or app — credit union members expect those transactions to be immediate, transparent, and secure. CO-OP Financial Services makes meeting that expectation possible for credit unions. And, the company does it through a vast and continuously evolving ecosystem of payments technology APIs. 

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Although API integration has long been a function of the CO-OP-credit union partnership, credit unions and their developers began to ramp up their API requests dramatically around 2018. To meet the increased demand, CO-OP set about creating a cloud-based API library that would enable developer self-service while scaling CO-OP’s integration support services. MuleSoft became a partner in that effort, which ultimately culminated in the launch of the CO-OP Developer Portal in November 2019. Although we couldn’t know it then, we rolled that resource out just in the nick of time.

A mad dash for digital banking APIs

Less than four months later, COVID-19 forced credit unions around the country to temporarily close their offices. Members and credit unions were forced to accelerate their adoption of digital banking to overcome the challenges of social distancing and mandated office closures. As a result, the already-high demand among credit unions for fast, smooth API integration soared in early 2020. 

Thanks to the Developer Portal, which had been in the marketplace and running smoothly for about 15 weeks, CO-OP was well-positioned to accommodate our credit union partners and their digital teams. Importantly, CO-OP helped clients serve their members in all the ways they were accustomed to being served, despite immense challenges. 

The portal contains a wide range of APIs – from basic to truly elegant. But, nearly all of them have a self-service component. The APIs enable developers to self-service, which in turn allows developers to create self-service experiences for members. 

We have APIs that allow members to activate new credit and debit cards right from their credit union’s mobile app. We have others that alert members to suspected fraud on their accounts. By the start of 2021, we’ll have an API that enables full digital issuance of a new card account. Each one of the APIs within CO-OP’s ecosystem is designed to help credit unions own more of the day-to-day financial moments that stimulate greater engagement and solidify loyalty. In this way, credit unions can win primary financial relationships with more consumers. 

Iterating on an accelerated timetable

Just a year into its general availability, the Developer Portal has already undergone several feature upgrades. In fact, we have consistently added new functionality every quarter since the portal’s launch. The pandemic-induced influx of engagement caused CO-OP and our MuleSoft partners to identify new opportunities for iteration much faster than we perhaps would have otherwise. Some of the enhancements we are working toward include the addition of even more APIs that generate real-time data insights, as well as experience workflows and a few new integration options, including webhooks. 

The number of credit union developer and IT teams engaging with the portal on a consistent basis has increased five-fold over the past few months alone. We are excited to see our partners become so active in the deployment of digital experiences. It’s also satisfying to know we have achieved our purpose, which is to make API integration of payments technology a fast, easy, and self-guided experience. 

While we know COVID-19 had a lot to do with the pace of innovation we’re seeing in the industry, we also know credit unions are all about the people they serve. Getting them the digital banking tools they need to optimize hundreds of lifestyle moments is the ultimate goal, and we’re proud to be able to support that effort for our credit union clients.

Learn more about how to unlock core banking systems and digitize customer experiences.