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A New Type Of Credit Card Control

From, Technology Credit Union’s stand-alone card-control app offers members customizable security.

By Erik Payne,, January 8, 2018

Top-Level Takeaways:

  • 60% of Technology Credit Union’s members work in the technology sector. As a result, the credit union stays on top of technological advancements.
  • In July, Tech CU soft-launched its Card Manager mobile app, which allows members to customize debit and credit card controls across five segments.

Nearly 60 years ago, employees of Fairchild Semiconductor — the company that created the first commercially viable computer chip, which, in-turn, spawned the semiconductor boom that gave Silicon Valley its name — came together to create Technology Credit Union ($2.4B, San Jose, CA).

“Our roots run deep in technology,” says the credit union’s CEO, Todd Harris.

He estimates that 60% of Tech CU’s 90,000 members work in the technology sector in some way, shape, or form. They’re early adopters who are equally concerned with data security. Because of this, Harris says, the credit union has an obligation to keep up with technological advancements.

The credit union also has a responsibility to respond to ever-changing consumer expectations borne from real-world experience.

This past summer, the personal information of 143 million American consumers was stolen from Equifax, a fact made public in September. In the wake of the breach, consumer control became a higher priority for many credit unions and their members.

Fortunately for Tech CU, in July the credit union soft-launched its Card Manager mobile app, a do-it-yourself application that allows members to personalize debit and credit card controls across many variables. In September, the credit union started marketing the product in earnest.

“We looked at this from the consumer perspective because our sensitive information is out there, too,” Harris says.

Though members can jump between apps seamlessly, Card Manager runs as a stand-alone subordinate application from the credit union’s traditional mobile banking application — much like how Facebook and Facebook Messenger co-exist. One of the reasons for this is size. Card Manager offers a comprehensive set of controls, and embedding card control tools inside the mobile app pushed it too close to the IOS and Android app stores’ size limitations, resulting in slow load times.

“If you pack apps with too many features, they get too big and no longer properly function,” Harris says.

In addition, the credit union could launch these card tools as a stand-alone app much quicker than finding a way to fold them into the traditional app. Given how the Equifax breach made everyone hyper-aware of security, Tech CU found more value in providing these controls sooner rather than later.

Today, Card Manager provides five primary card controls that are a bit different from what other financial institutions and card issuers, including Wells Fargo and Discover, offer

  • On/Off Switch: Members can turn their debit or credit card off when not making purchases to reduce the risk of fraud.
  • Locations: Based on smartphone location, members can limit purchases to certain geographic radiuses — whether by zip code, city, state, or country. The smallest allowable region is a five-mile radius.
  • Merchant Types: Members can specify merchant categories for transactions. A transaction not in an allowed category will be denied.
  • Transaction Types: Members can control where and how transactions occur, including in-store, online, auto pay, cash withdrawals, and more.
  • Spending Limits: Members can set limits for various transactions.

The credit union plans to continually review members’ needs and expectations and build out new functionality accordingly. Already, Tech CU has two improvements coming down the pipe. First, the credit union will roll out daily spending limits in 2018. Also, it will add a travel notification that allows members to transact in areas they’ve made off-limits.

“The controls we have now are all limiting,” Harris says. “The travel notification allows members to transact in a way that normally would be rejected. We view that as a convenience rather than a control.”

Click here to watch the YouTube video.

And although Tech CU has a tech-savvy membership, it recognizes members might need help understanding the breadth of powerful controls to which they have access. To that end, the credit union has a 90-second video explaining exactly what members can do and how to do it.

“Wells Fargo had a giant ad campaign just on the ability to turn your card off and on,” Harris says. “Off and on is where we start. After that, we have all sorts of things you can do.”

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