The Merging of FinTech and Credit Unions With Austin Wentzlaff of FinTech Accelerator
You might not immediately associate credit unions with fintech startups, but this intersection is Austin Wentzlaff’s passion — so much so he started his own business.
As the founder of FinTech Accelerator, Austin works with early-stage startups that provide tech solutions for credit unions. For instance, he’s working with a company called Illuma Labs, a voice-authentication solution built for credit unions. The idea is for credit unions to bypass those annoying security questions and better serve the needs — and wants — of members.
He also works with a company called RenoFi, what he describes as a “HELOC on steroids.” It’s a lending solution that allows homeowners to borrow money based on the value of their post-renovation home.
In this episode of the Digital Banking podcast, Austin shares his insights into the world of credit unions and tech. He explains how voice authentication solutions could change the way credit unions interact with customers, and he emphasizes the important role technology plays in this space — and how it could help credit unions reclaim thousands of hours a year.
⚡ At the onset of COVID-19, Austin sank his time and energy into researching the credit union industry’s current needs. He partnered with two companies, Illuma Labs and RenoFi, that provide promising tech solutions to help credit unions continue to offer innovative products and experiences.
⚡ Initially, voice authentication technology sounds like a great solution to combat fraud — though, according to Austin, something like 60% of fraudsters can guess all the answers to your security questions. Security aside, this technology can also potentially create a more pleasant customer experience. Rather than transactionally asking questions at the top of the call, representatives can better engage with customers.
⚡ Austin has no doubt that startups and credit unions will continue to merge in the near future. At the end of the day, he asks potential credit union clients: What’s the ROI of not doing this? The goal is to serve customers, and if a tech solution can improve that experience, why not?
How voice authentication can bring back mom-and-pop banking days
“Fraud is almost one of the things we talk about last when we’re talking to credit unions. It’s definitely a feature of the voice of authentication, and it’s something that’s extremely important. But operational efficiency and the user experience — that’s the one that we hit on the most. You’ve been on the opposite end of that phone call many times in your life of being asked way too many questions, getting bothered and getting annoyed. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate [at Illuma Labs]. We want the credit union experience to be something special where when I call my credit union, it takes you back to the old days of the mom-and-pop banking experience where it’s ‘Hey Josh, how’s your family?’ and less ‘Give me all of your security questions.’”
Why credit unions need to look beyond the data
“Data analytics can make things incredibly more efficient, and it can give you a ton of insight into who that person is. But … you have to use that data to then go: ‘I like what I see about Josh. I’ve looked into him, and I like his story. I’m going to call him, and I’m going to find out some more…’ Maybe they don’t fit into the normal confines of someone we would normally lend to, but I’m looking at the data, and I’m looking at someone with good growth trajectory. Let’s call them up. Let’s find out more about them.”
Technology could save you 3,200 hours a year…
“I just got off the phone with a credit union a little bit ago that said they do 8,000 calls a month. So times that by 12, and that’s 96,000 calls a year. And if we can save you even two minutes, that’s 192,000 minutes or 3,200 hours. That’s more than one full-time equivalent of time that you can save by using technology. What are you going to do at that time? Are you going to fire the call center person because we don’t need them anymore? Or are you going to keep your same operational costs, but now use that to drive further revenue?”
‘What’s the ROI of not doing it?’
“The question I always like to ask people is … what is the ROI of not doing this? And I think that … any tech solution out there is a good example of this. It’s the ROI of not serving your members is greater than what this is going to cost in a lot of cases.”
There are three sides, and you have to pick two
“Do you want it done fast? Do you want it done cheap? Or do you want it done right? Pick two. You can’t have all three. If you bring that forward and say … you have a member experience, you have ease of use internally, you have low cost versus high costs. What’s most important to you? Pick two. I mean you could probably have all three, but maybe not in the same timeframe you want. Maybe it’s extra work, extra time or extra costs.”
Guest At A Glance
With more than seven years in the credit union space, Austin combines his passion for finance and startups through his company, FinTech Accelerator. He provides guidance in business development for clients like Illuma Labs, a voice-authentication solution for credit unions, and RenoFi, a home renovation lender.