Why Credit Unions Are Riding a Wave of Digitization Efforts Post‑Pandemic

Adriana Pansera,

We regularly host webcasts on topics such as fraud prevention, authentication, and digital security best practices. If you missed our recent webcast, The Digital-First Credit Union: How to Move Forward with E-Signatures hosted by Credit Union Times, here is the 5 minute summary. The full presentation is available on-demand.

While the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak were heavily felt at the onset of the pandemic, financial services organizations are now looking forward with optimism to the new realities of a post COVID-19 world. The pivot to the digital channel and digital transformation, as not just the preferred but now the only­­ means to maintain business continuity in times of crisis, is not a trend that will soon be reversed.

For financial institutions of all stripes, it has become imperative to tackle the novel set of changes that touch remote member experiences in order to continue to strengthen deliverability of digital sales and services. Due to their strong commitment to enhanced member experience and member satisfaction, credit unions especially need to capitalize on digitally-assisted channels that have become the primary modes of member engagement in a digital-first environment.

Where We Are Now – State of the Credit Union

In their September 2020 Trends report, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced the smallest increase in new credit union memberships since July 2017. Being primarily relationship-based financial institutions, credit unions have felt the pain of the pandemic as their value proposition stresses the personal connection inherent in transactions and interactions with their credit union members. Ultimately, not supporting digital capabilities can expose any financial institution and make them less attractive to potential and current members.

Encouragingly, the credit union market is leading the charge in their digitization efforts. In a poll conducted during the webinar, 25% of respondents indicated that digital technology was already being leveraged throughout their entire enterprise; while 66% said they were utilizing at least some digital technology in isolated pockets, such as e-signatures at point-of-sale tablets. While the effort to digitize is promising, having this siloed approach inhibits scalability across the organization and ensures only a fraction of members are benefiting from these advancements.

Go Digital: Top Priorities for Digitization

In the early half of this year, immediate priorities focused on supporting members in financial distress and facilitating remote work for employees. As the crisis has matured, financial institutions are looking beyond mere continuity plans. Top analyst firm, Celent, recently ran a study about post COVID-19 priorities for IT investment strategies entering into 2021. Overwhelmingly, 97% of respondents affirm enhancing digital self-service capabilities to be their main priority, followed by improved digital product origination and onboarding (77%) and enhancing operational efficiencies and cost reductions (71%).

But can we make these plans a reality? The principal requirement for operating in a digital-first world is the creation of trust in a member’s identity as the foundation for continued business and secure remote interactions. Cementing trust in the digital onboarding process has therefore emerged as a crucial area of focus with implications for a range of digital activities, including:

  • account opening
  • loan applications
  • wealth management
  • new insurance and policy applications
  • disclosure and policy delivery
  • day-to-day transactions

Each of these processes now necessitates a completely remote and contactless experience.

Member Onboarding in a Remote World

Digital identity verification and e-signatures have thus emerged as key tools in facilitating the automation and digitization of many legacy processes in the banking experience. Traditional, manual-based onboarding procedures are a time-consuming back-and-forth with multi-step paper processes—wet signature capture, printing and scanning forms, and QA’ing documents—that can drag on and on. The reality of digitizing the end-to-end process via integration of digital technologies, like e-signatures and remote ID verification, simplify the workflow, thus eliminating steps and redundancies and further creating a more frictionless experience for members.

Overall, these solutions drastically improve member experience, enhance operational efficiencies, cut costs, and heighten regulatory compliance. A win-win, as the case study below with Affinity Credit Union will demonstrate. 

E-Signature Success Story

Affinity Credit Union is the 7th largest credit union in Canada. For their e-signature pilot, they identified an area that necessitated moderate effort to generate the highest impact: mortgage renewals. Affinity’s legacy process involved mass mail-outs and advisor meetings 120 days in advance of a term expiration. This process failed to factor in situations where members happened to drop into a branch unannounced or were readily available to negotiate immediately. Further complications arose when joint borrowers were spread across different cities or provinces.

In selecting an e-signature solution, Affinity needed to ensure all boxes were checked when it came to IT capabilities and security compliance. Additionally, one of their top priorities was quelling any confusion on the part of their members as to who they would be receiving signature requests from.

Equipped with Affinity’s familiar branding, the white-labelling capability offered by OneSpan Sign assured members on the receiving end that the documents came directly from their credit union. The continued personalized experience they were accustomed to maintained trust in the brand and increased satisfaction rates. For Affinity, the simplified workflow meant greater productivity savings and a more streamlined experience. Years later, the reduced friction in the overall signing process has even allowed them to increase the volume of renewals as a result of the pandemic.


To meet with similar success, the first step is to identify the top processes within your credit union where improvements could be gained by streamlining the member experience. Slim down unnecessary steps, and automate where possible. Determining the best method for implementation of digital technologies, like e-signatures and remote identity verification, will secure the level of trust and ease of use that your members have come to expect while conducting business via remote channels in a safe, secure, and frictionless environment.

To learn more about credit union success stories, please watch the recording of our joint webinar, “The Digital-First Credit Union: How to Move Forward with eSignatures”. For more on how OneSpan Sign can be deployed to support digitization projects during this time of crisis, please read more on Beyond Business Continuity.

Notebook Webcast

The Digital-First Credit Union: How to Move Forward with eSignatures

Watch this webcast as digital business leaders explore the top processes for credit unions to digitize with e-signatures and key security considerations for the digital-first credit union.

Watch now

Adriana Pansera is a Senior Marketing Specialist at OneSpan responsible for outreach and events. A digital storyteller with diverse industry experience, she leverages her BA in English to communicate how our experiences are shaped by our relationship with technology and the world.