Cooperative Teachers CU Brings ‘Joy’ To The Member Experience

By Weiwei Duncan

Adoption of digital banking isn’t just accelerating—it’s taking root, according to a recent survey from Chase. Post-pandemic, consumers have drastically changed how they bank. Those who were once reluctant to leverage digital have been forced to go outside their comfort zone. 

A year later, they expect it and they want it. According to a financial resiliency study reported in Forbes, Americans plan to manage their finances online or through their mobile devices for the foreseeable future. 

With demand for digital at its highest levels and no decline in sight, there has never been a better time for financial institutions to accelerate their journey towards digital transformation.  Tyler, Texas-based Cooperative Teachers Credit Union is leading the way. 

Since 1953, $133 million CTCU has been fiercely committed to serving its members with honesty and transparency that benefits them and their community. Founded by teachers, for teachers, CTCU has grown into a community credit union open to the community at large; yet it still maintains its passion for educators throughout East Texas. 

To support the CU’s mission of helping members achieve their financial goals, CTCU offers comprehensive financial products and services that are available to members wherever they may be—online, mobile or in person. For CTCU, partnering with Bankjoy made sense.   

Personalization and Conversational AI

While demand for digital climbs, the experience needs to improve. Consumers not only expect their credit union to offer great digital banking tools, but they also expect personalization. Chase’s consumer survey revealed that almost half of respondents desire a personalized experience, but this demand is particularly high among younger generations. 

Gen Z currently represents the second-largest generation in the U.S., already making up approximately 40% of America’s purchasing power. They’re entering adulthood and the workforce, presenting a huge opportunity for credit unions. But failing to deliver a personalized experience can be a deal-breaker for them. In fact, 79% of Gen Z expect it.  

CTCU is making big plans for its current and future members. To deliver an outstanding, personalized experience that members want, the organization launched in 2020 a digital banking platform from Bankjoy that leverages and optimizes conversational artificial intelligence. 

Bankjoy’s conversational artificial intelligence is a significant update to traditional interactive voice response. In it, consumers press buttons on their phone, talk and “Joy” understands. Notably, financial institutions also have the option to rename “Joy,” as well as change the gender of the voice.

Finding the Right Fintech Partnerships 

For CTCU and many other credit unions, which companies they partner with is critical, especially when it comes to fintech. Can their partners quickly execute? Will they stay current and relevant with technology? Are they innovative yet reliable? These are not rhetorical questions. These should absolutely be asked and answered.

During the evaluation process, the leaders of CTCU knew what kind of fintech they wanted to work with. 

“Our industry is constantly evolving, making it critical that our technology partners evolve with it,” says CTCU President/CEO Tim Miller. “Unlike big corporate providers, Bankjoy evolves with the times. Their startup mentality was extremely attractive to us, bringing a forward-thinking approach to our credit union.” 

Miller adds, “Bankjoy also aims to go beyond just offering mobile. Their mindset is ‘mobile banking can be better.’ Most financial institutions offer some type of mobile banking, but those offerings aren’t always the best. The quicker path may be to simply plug in whatever product is readily available to ensure your members have that option, but the team at Bankjoy knew mobile banking could be better, and then they made it better.” 

Historically, mobile banking has been limited to just a handful of features, such as viewing account balances, and wasn’t very intuitive. Today, people want the same experience from their mobile banking app as they get from Netflix, Amazon and Apple. The Bankjoy system offers such features as online account opening, management of credit and debit cards, and online loan origination. 

This mindset carries over into the implementation process, as well as ongoing updates and integrations. At the onset of the partnership, Bankjoy seamlessly integrated with CTCU’s existing core system without any surprises or issues. 

Later, CTCU converted to Corelation’s KeyStone platform. Bankjoy’s close integration with Corelation allowed for another seamless process to ensure no disruptions in member service. This year, CTCU migrated to Bankjoy’s latest version. Again, the process was simple and painless. 

The key to a successful implementation or migration is over communication. It is critical that fintechs establish clear expectations and then provide frequent updates throughout the process. This not only ensures that the credit union is updated, but that it can communicate clearly with its members. 

“From the beginning, Bankjoy was exceptionally detailed. We knew exactly what to expect,” said Miller. “The overall process—from switching cores to migrating to Bankjoy’s latest platform—has been seamless, painless and simple.” 

Real Value for Credit Unions and Their Members

Since offering Joy, CTCU has seen a tremendous positive impact on the member experience, enabling members to more easily manage their finances anywhere, anytime.  With Joy, members can transfer funds to other accounts, pay bills, deposit checks, manage their cards in real time and instantly establish travel notifications, apply for loans and more. 

“Members love Joy,” Miller says. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, from being user-friendly, easy-to-navigate and intuitive.” 

“And it’s not just younger members,” he adds. “Members 65 and over are using Joy, as well as our employees and board members. Everyone loves it.” 

CTCU has also seen a complete flip between desktop banking and mobile banking since launching Joy. Before, most of its digital members were using desktop machines to manage their finances. After implementing Bankjoy, most of its digital members use mobile banking more often. 

Additionally, deposits have continued to grow 25% year-over-year for several years—above the industry average of 13%. With features like remote deposit capture, deposits are much more seamless.  

Adding Joy has also provided a massive competitive advantage. Miller notes, “With Bankjoy, I get a product and service that can compete with Bank of America and Wells, but at a fraction of the cost and with access to a stellar team that can quickly make changes to keep their solutions modern and relevant. Joy works better, looks better and it’s easier to navigate—and is far superior to what the mega banks offer.”

Looking ahead, CTCU is excited to continue its partnership. “Bankjoy has increased funding (adding clients and venture capital) and they are growing dramatically—indicating that their solutions are not only valuable, but that they will be around long term,” says Miller.