Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally ran in November 2015. It has been updated for the summer 2016 travel season.
Nearly eight in ten Americans will be traveling this summer, according to American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. With member travel comes the perennial problem of travel notification. Are you doing enough to make it easy for members to let you know about their travel plans?
“As a credit union, member travel can present challenges, especially when travel notifications arrive at the last minute – or are not submitted at all,” says Amanda Atcheson, product marketing manager for CO-OP Financial Services. “Without timely access to this information, determining whether or not to authorize member card payments in remote locations can be difficult.”
According to Kevin Alsup, vice president, information and administration for San Jose-based Tech CU (Technology Credit Union), “What makes managing travel notifications so complicated is that the information has to integrate directly into highly secure fraud detection systems at a credit union’s processor. So there can be a fair amount of software customization involved in automating the process. That is why many credit unions approach the task manually, even though maintaining these records can be very time and labor intensive.”
Serving Bay Area Jet-Setters
A $2 billion credit union with more than 70,000 members, Tech CU serves employees of tech giants such as Tesla, eBay, Applied Materials, Nvidia and Facebook, among others. Like many credit unions, Tech CU’s travel notification process used to be handled manually.
“Our employees would receive member travel notifications in the branch, online and by phone, and then either manually enter each request into the CO-OP portal or manually enter the data into spreadsheets,” he says. “The information in the spreadsheets then had to be consolidated, reformatted and uploaded each day to CO-OP, our processor.”
On average, Tech CU receives approximately 50 travel notifications each day. “Keeping track of these records involved hundreds of hours and cost tens of thousands of dollars each year,” says Alsup.
In search of a better solution, Tech CU agreed to serve as a beta test site for the new CO-OP Concierge Web Service API. During beta testing, the solution was rolled out exclusively to employees, and was so effective that Tech CU decided to launch a consumer webpage and mobile app allowing members to submit their own travel notifications directly to CO-OP.
How the API Works
According to Tim Weaver, product manager – core products for CO-OP, the API tells credit unions exactly how to code in order to send travel notifications directly to a CO-OP server. Once received, notifications are automatically sent to CO-OP’s Falcon Fraud Manager and Authorization Block systems to help prevent members from experiencing unexpected denials while traveling.
“Our staff loves it,” says Alsup. “It is unbelievable how much more efficiently they can manage these notifications. We can’t wait to introduce Concierge to our members later this year.
“This tool helps turn a multi-step, manual process into a seamless, real-time data transfer,” he continues. “And since Concierge is primarily a member-facing product, it will allow credit union employees to focus their time instead on other member services.”
Alsup noted that the API is also very easy to use. “We are impressed with how well the API is written and how simple it was to code to it,” he said. “Our programmer coded to the API in just one day.”
He adds that Concierge delivers a great return on investment. “Credit unions will find that this tool quickly pays for itself,” he said. “Its low cost structure makes it extremely affordable, especially considering how robust the API is.”
He adds, “Our members here in Silicon Valley travel all the time, and they have very high expectations of technology. Beta testing this product allowed us to be exactly where we like to be as a credit union – in on the early stages of an innovative new technology and helping to create an exceptional user experience for our members.”
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