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BCU

BCU is a $2.3 billion full-service, not-for-profit, financial institution providing SEG and community banking to over 200,000 members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. BCU is noted for setting new standards in bringing together technology and member service in the fast-changing world of financial services. As an organization, BCU is committed to improving members’ financial well-being through the brand promise We’ve Got Your Back.

OTHER ARTICLES

Will COVID-19 Be the Final Straw for Cash and the Branch?

Article | April 1, 2020

There are two things that the COVID-19 crisis is teaching us. Be careful of what you touch. And be careful of who you are near. Neither one is a good message for the future of cash nor the bank branch, two staples of 20th century financial life whose demise analysts and prognosticators have been anticipating for decades. Could a global pandemic that forces society into “social distancing” prove to be the final straw that breaks the back of both our commitment to cash and what’s left of the bank branch?

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How Fintech Startups Are Disrupting the Payments Industry

Article | April 1, 2020

Long in the past, transfers of value took place between royalty, merchants and commoners who all used gold, silver, cattle and other physical commodities to thrive and survive. That ended in 1971 when the U.S. dollar and other world fiat systems fully detached from the gold standard and embraced floating exchange rates. Over the past 50 years, financial institutions built payment systems that are partially obsolescing in the wake of fintech disruptions like virtual currencies, distributed ledgers and decentralized protocols.

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Optimizing Risk Management With Machine Learning In Banking

Article | April 1, 2020

The enormous amounts of data accessible to banks and their high demand for forecasting make the financial industry a perfect area for machine learning (ML) to shine. In this article, we explore the current applications of machine learning in banking when it comes to risk management, define its challenges and provide a future outlook. Credit Risk Management For the past few decades, banks have mostly used logistic and probit regression models for credit risk assessments and internal risk management. However, all conventional models inherit the same flaw — they predict outputs based only on linear relationships between input variables. This limitation was exposed in the catastrophic 2008 housing market crash. Although the crisis’s negative consequences have been multiplied by uncontrolled sales of credit default swaps and other complex financial instruments, the fundamental reason for failure was in the inaccurate credit risk model. In the aftermath, with the intent to force financial institutions to provide more detailed reports, The Federal Reserve’s CCAR now requires banks to account for more than 2,000 economic attributes. Consequentially, this also led to other regulating authorities introducing new standards that improve supervisory data quality and reporting. At the same time, with the proliferation of banking apps, social media, and digital communication overall, financial institutions now collect lavish amounts of unstructured data. If gathered and processed correctly, these new datasets can help gauge critical insights for a wide range of banking operations. This is where machine learning comes into play. More advanced non-linear approaches to credit risk modeling including neural networks enable banks to make predictions with a previously unseen level of accuracy and granularity. Challenges The utter superiority of machine learning over traditional credit risk modeling approaches comes at the cost of the prevailing ‘black box’ problem. While we can decide to trust ML algorithms based on statistical evidence of their feasibility, current regulatory constraints won’t allow it to happen. However, machine learning can still be used to a great extent while being regulation-compliant. Even simple linear machine learning approaches still yield more accurate results than conventional ones. Many banks also use unsupervised machine learning methods to explore data, while using traditional classification and regression models to make predictions. Fraud Management and Surveillance Nowadays, the majority of banks’ fraud detection systems use rule-based approaches. This causes banks to deal with a significant number of false positives, forcing them to spend inordinate amounts of resources to distinguish meaningless behavioral deviations from real threats. The ability of machine learning to capture subtle trends and uncover non-linear relationships allows banks to get a complete picture of a client’s activity and significantly lower the probability of false positives. For example, by integrating ML into its fraud detection model, Danske Banks managed to reduce false positives by 60%. Challenges Similar to many other AI-based solutions in the financial space, the biggest adoption hurdles concern regulations and the unexplainability of AI systems. For example, depending on the jurisdiction, banks are often unable to provide developers with sensitive information related to past breaches. Next, the outputs of unsupervised monitoring systems sometimes can’t be explained, which makes them non-compliant. However, financial institutions have found a way to at least partly leverage the power of ML for fraud management. A fraud prevention system’s alerts will still be triggered by rule-based models, but the integration of an ML algorithm on top of them can allow adjusting surveillance methods to a person’s behavior fluctuations. Such ML models are typically less complex and explainable, which makes them applicable in a regulatory context.

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How Banks Should Use Buy Now Pay Later To Increase Their Customer Base

Article | April 1, 2020

The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) phenomenon is gaining momentum around the world. BNPL services give consumers who do not have access to credit the ability to purchase goods and services with no deposit and to pay for goods and services over time. However, while banks, consumer credit providers and alternative credit providers will benefit from BNPL services, they also introduce challenges for financial regulators, existing providers in related markets and banks themselves. Banks need to make sure that they are ready for a new type of competition. Larger retail banks seem to have added BNPL business to their portfolio already. Smaller banks will be forced to enter the market, either by acquiring a BNPL provider or rolling up the sleeves internally. In any case, it’s time that banks get rid of their prejudices and get on board with this consumer-friendly innovation that will ultimately benefit them by providing an influx of new customers, at least in the long run. For a complete understanding of buy now pay later, we should first look at the traditional financing models that banks and fintechs use to lend credits. These financing technique is known as point-of-sale or POS. Let’s take a look on POS below. How POS (Point-of-sale) Financing services work: Traditional POS financing is a model that has been around for decades. Most consumers are familiar with its most basic form: pay now, pay later. With POS financing, a customer signs up for credit to buy a product, typically for a portion of its full price. Some POS financing programs require no down payment. Once the customer has made all payments, they become the owner of the goods. POS financing works by financing the full price of the product, not a portion of the price. This means the customer pays the full purchase price of the item, plus interest. While POS financing has been popular for decades, it has faced some challenges. The payment model doesn't cater to customers who can't afford to pay the full purchase price upfront — these shoppers are often low-income or first-time-buyer customers. POS financing also requires shoppers to make large payments right away, which can be difficult for them. “The banking “industry” is changing rapidly – almost on a daily basis. However, those changes are not affecting people as much as we may think, particularly the underserved and unbanked.” -Steven Rosamilia, CEO at IMEX USA How BNPL helps customers: BNPL, or "buy now, pay later," payments enables customers to pay for their purchases over time, interest-free. BNPL payments don't appear on a customer's credit profile, so it doesn't affect their credit score. Here are some of the major points where BNPL helps customers: BNPL payments give customers the ability to buy now and pay later without accruing interest. BNPL payments are typically not fixed and fluctuate based on a customer's ability to pay over time. BNPL payments often appear in the form of layaway, credit extensions or installment loans. BNPL payments may attract customers who want to own products but don't have the money upfront. BNPL payments also work well for customers who want to spread out payments over time. How BNPL is different than other POS lending services: BNPL is an alternative payment technique offered by the payment service provider to businesses. Payment service providers use credit lines provided by banks and credit card companies to offer installment loans to customers. Unlike conventional POS financing, BNPL focuses on consumers' ability to purchase a product rather than their ability to repay their loan. This is achieved by classifying consumers into different groups based on their creditworthiness and offering consumers an installment loan with payment periods that vary based on their creditworthiness. As a result, payment service providers use BNPL as a risk-based financing technique. The payment service provider considers consumers' creditworthiness by classifying them into different consumer groups, such as "prime" consumers, "sub-prime" consumers, and "near-prime" consumers. These consumer groups are similar to credit profiles used by conventional credit card companies. With BNPL, businesses can request a payment profile classification from their business service provider. The payment profile classification determines the installment loan payment schedule that the consumer receives. Businesses can request a payment profile classification from their business service provider. The payment profile classification determines the installment loan payment schedule that the consumer receives. For checking your credit-worthiness before lending you BNPL, service providers may check consumer’s payment history, income, job stability, and other major factors. The financial service provider then use these factors to determine the installment loan payment schedule that the consumer receives. What features BNPL brings to the table for Merchants: Buy Now Pay Later is a new way to process payments. It's for young adults with shaky credit. The option lets merchants accept credit or debit cards but defer the payments. It lets merchants offer customers a low payment schedule, typically 6 to 24 months. But it's different than payment plans. With BNPL, there's no interest, no hidden fees, and no penalties for not paying all at once. BNPL works with all credit cards, not just Visa or MasterCard, and payments are processed securely through Authorized pages. BNPL increases conversion and sales by 20% for merchants while boosting average order value by 60%. For customers, BNPL gives them access to the credit they otherwise wouldn't have. And for merchants, BNPL means more conversions, more sales and more repeat customers. BNPL is offered by a handful of digital storefronts, including Best Buy, Kohl's, and Walmart. But it's a new way of doing business that allows both parties to benefit from the deal (compared to 2.5 percent for a credit card transaction). Why should Financial Institutions accept BNPL: Amazon's Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) program is both a blessing and a curse for retailers — a blessing as it offers them a way to boost sales by attracting shoppers who are price sensitive, and a curse because it threatens to erode bank's main business. Amazon's BNPL program has only been around for two years, but it has already become a crucial part of the site's business model. The program gives people the option to buy products on Amazon with deferred payment terms. Customers purchase the product, but they aren't charged to agree to a 90-day payment plan until later. While that's far less than the average credit card payment period — 25% of Americans carry credit card debt — BNPL has become popular enough with Amazon shoppers that it has shrunk Amazon's average purchase amount by $7.77, according to one report. That's a significant hit. Amazon's BNPL program may be taking Amazon's main business, online sales, down a notch, but the banks that have issued BNPL cards aren't worried. That's because BNPL cards, like credit cards, are financing. And financing today looks different than financing did even five years ago. Many consumers, especially Gen Z, prefer to buy with credit and postpone payments. This shift in consumer preferences has major implications for banks. Banks issued financing to safe, creditworthy customers who wanted to buy now and pay later when credit cards were first introduced. But bank lending practices have changed over the years, and today many consumers use credit cards to finance products they might otherwise buy with cash. How can Banks integrate BNPL in their lending services BNPL is a fast-growing segment of the lending market. In 2015, BNPL made up 15.2% of all consumer credit originations and grew to $12.1 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. BNPL's share grew from 8.4% in 2014 to 14.7% in 2015, according to Experian. A BNPL strategy allows banks to ride the wave of increased consumer debt by managing their balance sheet more aggressively. This helps stabilize revenues and boosts the profitability of loans as banks can charge higher interest rates. While BNPL loans often come with hefty price tags, lenders can minimize their losses by structuring BNPL loans as an asset purchase rather than a loan sale. First, banks have to make sure they can fund the loans, either with their balance sheet or with funding from a non-bank lender. Second, banks have to decide whether the loan will be purchased directly or indirectly. Cross River Bank is currently riding the BNPL trend with this model by providing Affirm with funding capacity. The model is safe as BNPL firms often purchase those loans after origination, but it also caps the potential gains banks can earn as the fee is often a small percentage of the total origination. How can banks initiate marketing their buy now pay later services? First, banks need to be agile and go after merchants that already have relationships with customers. Fintechs, on the other hand, must convince merchants that their service, regardless of its costs, is worth paying. There are obviously some similarities. Both must win over merchants. But they also have different advantages. Fintechs don't have existing relationships or established customer bases, so they must build both from scratch. Fintechs, however, have an advantage over banks in that they have the technology. In addition, fintechs can integrate their solutions into existing e-commerce systems, giving merchants an out-of-the-box, easy-to-deploy solution. This, in turn, makes fintech more attractive to merchants. Fintechs can also target specific markets. For example, some banks sell online merchant accounts, but their service is often limited to larger merchants with more established distribution networks. Fintechs, on the other hand, can target smaller merchants, giving them an approach that's better suited to the needs of smaller businesses. Fintechs can also target specific niches. A fintech that targets small businesses, for example, could focus on those that sell high-priced goods online. Fintechs don't have to build their distribution networks, either. Instead, they can use existing online channels like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Of course, fintechs can also sell directly to merchants, but this approach requires additional sales and marketing efforts. Fintechs can also build their distribution networks. They can use a direct-to-consumer model, selling directly to their customers. This approach is best suited for fintech that is sells online merchant accounts and works for fintech that targets specific markets. The Takeaway BNPL programs have a critical role in financing trade and industry and financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). For this reason, BNPL programs should be an integral part of banks’ lending portfolios. Banks should optimize the utilization of BNPL programs. At the same time, the regulatory framework for BNPL programs needs to be revised. The business models of BNPL programs should be standardized and standardized products should be available. At the same time, the regulatory framework for BNPL programs needs to be revised. FAQs What is buy now pay later? Buy now pay later, as the name suggest, is an option Fintechs give you to purchase a product and pay for it after a certain amount of time. It works like a credit card payment, but it doesn’t charge you interest. Does buy now pay later affect credit score? No. Buy now pay later does not affect your credit score as long as you pay your dues timely. It is constructed in a way that you won’t have to worry about your credit score. However, banks may see your credit score before giving you BNPL service. Why was I not eligible for buy now pay later? Financial services or banks check your credit-worthiness before lending you the services of buy now pay later. They may check your payment history, income, job stability, etc. So before applying for BNPL, make sure you have a strong credit-worthiness. What are the alternatives to buy now pay later? You can use your credit card the same way as buy now pay later, but your interest-free days would only last till they bill you. You can also opt for interest free deals on purchases from e-commerce store.

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Spotlight

BCU

BCU is a $2.3 billion full-service, not-for-profit, financial institution providing SEG and community banking to over 200,000 members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. BCU is noted for setting new standards in bringing together technology and member service in the fast-changing world of financial services. As an organization, BCU is committed to improving members’ financial well-being through the brand promise We’ve Got Your Back.

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