Ask an Exec – Volume 19

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As part of our “Ask an Exec” initiative, each quarter BCYL members will be asked to submit questions to our featured executives. Questions will be compiled and one random BCYL member’s questions will be highlighted on our website.

For this edition, Kirsten Sutton, Chief Technology and Information Officer for Vancity, shares her insights on technology innovation, open banking and digital transformation.

Questions:

1.   How do you see the concept of open banking impacting credit unions and their current membership? Are there specific actions that your credit union has taken to prepare, and what advice would you provide to emerging leaders in this area?

2.   Where do you see (or project to see) digital transformation in financial services as a benefit to society and the planet?  In what way do you see technological advancement being leveraged “for good” in terms of social and environmental impacts?

Kirsten Sutton, Vancity

How do you see the concept of open banking impacting credit unions and their current membership? Are there specific actions that your credit union has taken to prepare, and what advice would you provide to emerging leaders in this area?

I think about open banking as three streams of activity: regulations, business models, and technologies. Vancity is active across all three streams ensuring we are open-banking ready and leveraging this opportunity to deepen our member relationships and provide access to equitable and relevant services to our communities.

Open banking in a nutshell is the application of new standards for data exchange. Putting regulatory frameworks in place to standardize and secure exchange of financial data benefits us all. It makes it easier to communicate across financial institutions, members and regulatory bodies, ensuring the playing field is leveled and appropriately managed.

From a business model standpoint, we all need to consider what new opportunities might there be for us as a credit union system and individually as credit unions to further our collective and individual aspirations. What new products or services might we provide to members and how can we better serve them day-to-day with a richer data set? It’s a design-thinkers dream! Of course, we must also consider how might this level of data exchange pose new risks, and focus energy into mitigating where we can.

Technology needs to support the new standards and regulations and enable new opportunities for us as financial institutions. There are things we can do now like standardizing on a modern API framework, doubling down on data governance and quality as well as implementing the new ISO2022 standard like we have with Interac Instant for Business.

My best advice is to ensure that you are thinking about all three streams – especially the business models. While at the end, technology will be the “face” of open banking and we will all spend significant time bringing it to life through digital channels, it is the business opportunities these new standards create that make the difficult work ahead exciting.

Where do you see (or project to see) digital transformation in financial services as a benefit to society and the planet?  In what way do you see technological advancement being leveraged “for good” in terms of social and environmental impacts?

Technology is an enabler and often a catalyst for disruption and change. We’ve seen such disruption in print/publishing, music, farming, travel and certainly we’ve seen our fair share within the financial world.

We’re living at a critical moment in history when it’s time to really rethink how we all approach business in the 21st century. ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance criteria) is the talk right now. Lots of companies talk about ESG, but I wonder how many are questioning long held assumptions about their business strategies.

Since our founding, Vancity has used the tools of finance and our community relationships to expand economic opportunity, improve the wellbeing of our members, and make our communities better for everyone.

Much of our working in supporting our communities is fueled by the possibilities that technology has afforded us. Technology allows us to reach more remote areas, technology enables aggregation of non-traditional inputs to expand lending through modernized credit adjudication, and technology can speed up and ensure better accuracy and security of information.

But technology isn’t the driver, it is the enabler for Vancity to be a financial force for change. The driver is, and always has been, our relentless pursuit of a clean and fair world.