Core Integrations Like Solving Cancer?

Although this may seem like an exaggeration, it is extremely hard and costly for a vendor to connect to the core provider. Credit unions are also frustrated by these challenges because they prevent or at best slow down the credit union’s ability to provide their members the best products, services or applications. This slowing down adversely impacts the credit union’s efforts to stay relevant in a world where innovation is driving consumer choice and behaviors. Vendors are frustrated because these integration challenges stymies their ability to bring their innovative products, services and applications to the market quickly and easily.

Are these challenges necessary? Let’s look…

First both a cancer cure and a core integration need a common language. Different vendors are often asking for the same fields out of core but there is no common language or vocabulary. Even different core have different labels for these fields and these language differences need to be translated over and over and over.

Second both the cure for cancer and core integration need a common mapping between the data fields in core and the receiver of these fields. Currently each integration by a vendor to each core seems required a new map to access the data in these fields even though these fields have been accessed by other credit unions and vendors many times before.

Third the credit union and vendor need to learn from the lessons of others that have successfully done an integration for common fields in the past. Scientists cooperate across companies and even borders to seek a cure and are able to cooperate without revealing their “secret ingredient”. Credit unions and vendors need learn key lessons on how to normalize the language and how to “draw” the map for easier integrations from each other and even their competitors while maintaining their “secret ingredient”.

So, what is the solution? Collaboration!

Credit unions are built on their ability to compete in a cooperative world. Some even refer to this as “cooperatition”. It is the ability of credit unions to maintain their individuality and differentiation but still cooperate on matters that help the entire industry. Vendors to credit unions have an opportunity to learn from this unique type of “cooperatition”.

Here’s an example: Vendor A is a online banking provider and Vendor B offers a Personal Financial Management (PFM) product. Both of these vendors need to get access to a lot of the same core data for their product to work (transaction, checking, debit, credit, loan, balance, etc.) In today’s world, both of these vendors build their own map and translation code to allow this integration to work costing the vendor and the credit union significant money in professional services expense, taking too much time and using significant internal resource.

What if vendor to vendor and credit union to credit union we worked together and shared the map and the translation code for the common fields they are accessing it would be possible to remove a lot of the cost and time in doing these integrations.

But it doesn’t end there. These successful integration maps need to be shared with CUFX Standards. This hard work would now be captured in perpetuity. CUFX would then use these lessons learned to develop a common standard accessible for all of the credit unions that now want to build a similar integration with core?

In today’s world of fin-tech innovation, core integrations are no longer an option for credit union seeking to provide the best of breed products, services and applications for their members. This industry is no longer a “one size fits all” industry that a single vendor can provide all of the access, tools and products the consumer demands. Vendors and credit unions cooperating can solve this challenge.



Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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