Jim Bruene provides a case study of Star One Credit Union’s online banking, before and after, highlighting the key changes in its digital transformation.

Star One Credit Union is in an enviable position. Its Sunnyvale location, smack dab in the heart of Silicon Valley, gives the credit union access to many of the wealthiest people in the world. As a result, it has grown to be the 10th largest credit union in the country with more than $9.5bn in assets, $6.6bn in deposits and 100,000 members. Even more impressive are the off-the-charts average balances: $65,000 on deposit and $95,000 in loans per member.

While the well-heeled members are great for revenues, their Silicon Valley employment makes them uncompromising users of digital technology. And these tech savvy members could easily move their entire relationship for a better digital value proposition.

With that in mind, EVP Margarete Mucker knew they had to do something to update their 20-year-old online banking service powered by Digital Insight (DI), which had gone through four owners in seven years (now owned by NCR). The DI platform was falling behind current UX innovations and standards such as mobile-friendly responsive design. The service wasn’t customisable, and Star One struggled to integrate third-party services. It was becoming clear that the platform no longer met the needs of a digitally savvy member base.

But the CU was loath to change because it hadn’t seen a vendor that could integrate with Fiserv XP2 and provide a world class online and mobile experience. That changed with a discussion with Star One’s mobile banking provider Tyfone in mid-2016. Tyfone was active in the mobile banking space but hadn’t developed a desktop solution. However, that was about to change with the launch of its new integrated nFinia platform.

Star One was intrigued, so it began a formal online banking vendor search. In addition to best-in-class online banking functionality, it needed a system flexible enough to support various third-party services. And it was also concerned with mounting costs to support two digital banking vendors, one for online and another for mobile.

After considering Q2, D3 and Alkami, they concluded that Tyfone was the obvious choice. Star One had been using the Oregon-based company for its mobile app since 2011 and found them to be an innovative and supportive vendor.

“(Tyfone) were very engaged and committed and provided a secure and sound mobile banking platform,” said Margarete Mucker. “We had an excellent partnership over the past six years. It didn’t make sense for us to move to a completely new vendor when we knew what Tyfone was capable of.”

Besides unifying the customer UX, Tyfone offered considerable savings in the back-office with a single administrative support module, single sign-on, and importantly, a single fee per digital customer. In addition, Tyfone offered enhanced security options, along with the promise that both mobile and online channels wouldn’t be down at the same time. So at the end of 2016, Tyfone was selected, with conversion set for October 2017.

In March, my firm, BUX Advisors, was retained to look at the CU’s entire digital banking presence so they could understand and prioritise all that needed to be improved. In addition, we took a deep-dive into an early Tyfone online banking implementation and provided feedback.

Once a few rough edges were polished off, we re-evaluated the service against our UX matrix and it achieved our highest designation, a grade of ‘Excellent’. That means the site is now BUX-certified, qualifying Star One to display the ‘Excellence in Digital Banking’ certification logo.

Star One Credit Union after Tyfone

Major improvements in the new online banking service (see screenshot above):

  • The site is fully responsive, making it easy to use on any device of any size.
  • The first impression is excellent, making it approachable and easy to interact with.
  • The left-side navigation is intuitive and uses understandable labels, making it easy to complete key banking functions.
  • Key content areas are free from distractions and have an excellent balance of white space, making the site easy to scan and navigate.
  • The My Payments and Quick Transfer widgets on the right are highly visible and convenient.
  • The overview page defaults to All Memberships, so that it displays all account balances right away.
  • Account and routing numbers are easy to find.
  • Footer and header information is consistent throughout.

The conversion process

It’s no small chore convincing 87,000 tech-savvy banking members they need to re-enrol, and learn, a new online banking platform after 20 years, yet that’s the challenge Star One faced. At the same time, the CU switched bill pay providers (from DI/Checkfree to Jack Henry’s iPay), requiring its 15,000 users to learn a new system and reactivate any e-billing statements (though all payee info was automatically converted).

The conversion was in October. After a tedious two months of cleaning up data disparities, walking customers through the new UI and the single login scheme, and making last-minute platform upgrades (for example, the CU didn’t realise how important it was for its digital-savvy customers to be able to print transaction history and check images, so Tyfone quickly expanded the print-friendliness of the UI), online banking is now running smoothly again.

In fact, active BillPay users grew by 3% post-conversion, demonstrating that that key power user base is embracing the new system. And total digital active use appears to be trending up as well (though it’s hard to compare the single platform to the previous dual vendor one).

Bottom line: Star One members finally have a single, modern UI to conduct activities via desktop, tablets and smartphone. And with usage trending up so soon after a major conversion, it’s clearly a testament to the patience of the CU’s customer support staff, the intuitiveness of its new UI and the nimbleness of its new online banking provider. Here’s what the site looked like before …

Star One Credit Union before redesign


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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here

About the author

Jim Bruene

After developing the first major PFM-based online banking program at US Bancorp in the early 1990s, Jim Bruene went on to found two companies in the space: Online Banking Report and the Finovate conference series. He has been writing and geeking out on digital financial services nearly every day for more than 20 years and is currently Principal of BUX Advisors, a fintech UX/UI consultancy, as well as continuing to help guide content at Finovate events.

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