This Week’s Bill Pay Challenges and Our Path to the Future

From the desk of Randy Karnes, CU*Answers CEO

CU*Answers apologizes for the interruptions and issues with bill pay programs this week. I’m sure most of you are aware of the major goals we are pushing for, as we promised to change the game when it came to bill pay vendor services and our network. It is our pursuit of these goals that have caused the interruptions and short-term issues with bill pay across the network this week.

Two of these goals are:

1. To continue adding vendors to the CU*BASE / “It’s Me 247” native UI.

This is to ensure credit unions have the ability to easily add or subtract the bill pay vendors that power their programs without major issue for their members.

Our first API-based interface was the Payveris native user interface, and now we’ve partnered with iPay to connect one of their solutions to our native UI. Uniquely, iPay will offer two solutions to CU*Answers clients for the foreseeable future: the current SSO format and now a second native UI integration.

With this release, we added this new platform in preparation for the initial beta launch in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, the two iPay environments had a conflict and caused the service for mobile bill pay via iPay to be offline for an extended period of time. (We’re projected to be back online by the end of next week.)

2. To create a bill pay vendor integration/support model.

This is a model where credit unions can actually service their member­ship community with more than one bill pay vendor program at a time.

This is a major design shift, one that will aid CU merger and aggregation programs greatly. It will help avoid large contract cancellations at the time of mergers. The pressures of transitioning to new solutions can derail merger talks and block forward progress when credit unions cooperate on new configurations and designs.  And as an additional benefit to this new structure,  CUs with any bill pay solution will be able to start offering their members P2P via our Payveris solution.

With this release, we installed new logic for a standard communication approach for all of our bill pay vendor integrations, causing short-term issues with member email notifications and bill pay fees.

 

Most CUs are very understanding when we have release issues related to current tactics that they are ready to jump on right now. But it can be more frustrating to credit union teams when the issues in a release are related to future options and tactics yet to be decided on. These two issues are that type of issue – ones where CU*Answers is laying the foundation for the next step; software that is preparing for a capability more than delivering one right now.

In a perfect world, these issues may have been avoided this week. But in this world, every release comes with the risk that even after testing by programmers and QC testers, as well as verifications by two teams (CU*Answers and the vendor), interruptions still happen, giving us chances to learn from less-than-perfect results.

It is very hard for me to apologize for pushing for change, but easy for me to be grateful to credit unions for partnering with us and being patient with the process of innovating for bigger futures. It’s always easy to tweak the current game for the sake of change, but much harder to change the game for big wins. Credit unions need big wins to stay in the game.

Take care.