5 Things We Learned at GAC 2023

By all accounts, the 2023 edition of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) was a rousing success. In 2022, people seemed understandably apprehensive, but this year, it was full steam ahead for both attendees and exhibitors.

Of course, we couldn’t come away from such a massive event without learning a few things. These are the top five things we learned at GAC 2023.

Never bring a cookie to a food fight.

If you’ve ever visited with Tyfone at a tradeshow, you know that in addition to being famous for Dramastically Better Digital Banking® software, we’re also famous for our cookies. It’s a win-win-win. We look like the cool kids with our red Chucks and killer cookies, conference attendees get to enjoy a special treat, and we’re able to support a local bakery here in Portland.

There was just one … issue. Sometimes we forget to read the fine print! Under the rules set forth by the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, any exhibitor who dispenses their own food is required to receive advanced permission to distribute and a “corkage” fee is assessed to the outside items. Of course, we didn’t realize this beforehand. The irony is that the corkage fee per cookie was higher than the actual cost per cookie. This one gets filed under “know the rules going in, boneheads.”

Member centricity is a big deal (again).

Credit unions have always been about member centricity. In the movement’s ethos, “people helping people,” that first “people” is your credit union and that second “people” is your members. It’s been that way since there’ve been credit unions.

What credit unions are discovering now is that for all the advantages of our new, all-digital world, it’s tougher to be member centric when you’re not looking that member in the eye, shaking their hand or talking about their kid’s latest baseball victory. How do we stay member centric and still leverage technology to its fullest?

For digital banking providers like Tyfone, it starts with making sure each member can see their entire relationship with the credit union when they log in. That’s just table stakes these days. As we move forward , we need to continue to explore new ways to keep that high-touch feel in this low-touch world.

Inclusivity is a big deal (again).

Just like member centricity, credit unions have always been about inclusivity. After all, credit unions were created to meet the financial needs of people who were marginalized by bigger, greedier financial institutions. However, a couple of things have changed over the years.

First, even though credit unions have always wanted to be inclusive, actually reaching the people they claimed to include has been a challenge. Luckily, this is a challenge that can be solved in large part with technology. Today, more people than ever have access to technology. And that means more people than ever are reachable and servable by credit unions.

The other thing that’s changed is the very meaning of the word inclusive. Actually, that’s not true. What’s changed is our understanding of the word inclusive. The word itself says it all. It means we’re supposed to include everybody. Not just people who look like us or sound like us or act like us. Everybody. Some may argue that we have a long way to go as a society in this respect, but at Tyfone, we firmly believe that credit unions are well-positioned to lead the way.

Credit unions have a huge appetite for tech information (and cookies).

It’s called the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference for a reason. The focus of the event is ostensibly on governmental affairs. This year, governmental figures gave important keynote speeches. There were the annual “hill hikes,” too. Yet, it was hard not to notice how much technology dominated the conference – technology that, quite frankly, appeared to have little to do with governmental affairs.

The majority of vendors in the exhibit hall were tech vendors. Many of the breakout sessions were tech sessions, as well. For example, our CEO Siva Narendra participated in a panel discussion called Technology Trends to Watch. This only proves that technology is increasingly important for the survival of any and all credit unions. Three cheers to CUNA for giving the people what they want – and need.

Nobody can go it alone.

Ask any tech provider out there what they like about working with credit unions and they’ll all tell you the same thing: Moreso than any other industry, credit unions are always willing to help each other. Even though some of them compete in their respective markets, they understand that it’s more important to support each other in their joint quest to take on the Chases and Citis of the world.

Fortunately, this mindset is starting to spill over into the vendor community, as well. Vendors seem to be forming strategic partnerships at a record pace. Part of this is thanks to better technology. Today, APIs can be used to connect different tech products more easily than ever before. But beyond that, vendors are realizing that building a true ecosystem of vendors empowers credit unions to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. In short, vendors are discovering that it makes sense to think like a credit union.

Read More Top 5s

Go to Top