Making life accessible for Gen Z

Why credit unions need a strong digital offering to attract and keep Gen Z and Millennials.

Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) and Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are much studied populations. They’re not all identical, but they do share some important characteristics.

Of particular note is their affinity with the digital environment. Although Gen Z is the first generation to be born into the truly digital era, Millennials tend to follow suit in depending on the internet for managing their lives and lifestyles.

How do you perceive credit unions?

Or, more to the point, how are they perceived by Millennials and Gen Z? For these “youngsters,” credit unions are definitely of the last century – worthy, socially responsible, and favoured by their parents and grandparents. In short, old fashioned1.

This doesn’t mean that Gen Z or Millennials dislike credit unions. But, faced with competition, it does mean that credit unions must have a relevant and attractive offering if they are to entice these two important groups into becoming members.

Gen Z and Millennials access the world digitally

A 2022 report2 from BAI3 unpicks the banking habits of Gen Z and Millennials. There’s additional comment by Brian McNutt in the Credit Union Times4, which is definitely worth a read.

In a nutshell, if credit unions want to attract and keep membership from Gen Z and Millennials, their offer has to be accessible via high quality digital services. Note the emphasis. Average or out of date Apps won’t make the grade.

For these demographics used to doing everything on their phone, and where switching bank accounts is accomplished in a few clicks, any service that is laborious to access simply won’t get traction.

Digital eco-systems matter

For credit unions to meet the competition (think challenger banks and older institutions with deep pockets) it is essential that their offering is digital, reliable and attractive financially.

Only by keeping up digitally will credit unions remain relevant and competitive.

Sounds expensive? With the right partners the opposite is true. Large banks spend huge budgets on system changes, but increasingly the digital services market is led by specialist software houses delivering cost effective high quality digital assets – ideally suited to credit unions.

Money 4 Travel, from Essiell, is a good example.

Minimum requirement: digital, cloud-based, easy and convenient

Money 4 Travel is a cloud based travel money service that’s accessed via a mobile phone. Consumers can order foreign currency online at competitive rates and collect it from their chosen credit union branch.

In-branch, Money 4 Travel works with existing systems and is easy to use. A high level of automation means that it can free-up staff for other tasks. It’s efficient and cost effective, and popular with CU members and their branches alike.

And serving those digital demographics who love to travel, it’s the perfect opportunity to build your business.

By Bjorn Larsson, CEO at Essiell Ltd, the power behind Money 4 Travel. Essiell is a leading specialist in fintech solutions for retail travel money, financial control, information technology and data security, and compliance.

To find out more about Money 4 Travel, watch this video and go to

1 The first US credit union was St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association opened in Manchester, New Hampshire on April 6 1909 – so to someone born about 100 years later the concept really does seem antiquated.

2 BAI Banking Outlook: A Look at Gen Z Banking Habits and Attitudes

3 BAI is a non-profit organisation providing, research, training, thought leadership and networking for financial services leaders.

4 Why CUs Must Embrace Digital Tech to Win Over Millennials & Gen Z Credit Union Times, August 25, 2023.

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