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The AI Revolution Is Coming to Your Neighborhood Credit Union

A new partnership could increase the use of AI at CDFI credit unions across the country. 

By Bianca Gonzalez

Artificial intelligence is making its way into many aspects of urban life, and how you interact with your local credit union will likely be no exception. A new partnership between Inclusiv's Financial Inclusion Technology (FIT) Center and Posh Technologies will increase the use of conversational AI-powered bots at 400+ community development credit unions (CDCUs) throughout the Inclusive network

Inclusiv, a CDFI intermediary that helps CDCUs build capacity, launched the FIT Center in February 2023. The goal of the center is to help credit unions expand financial inclusion by facilitating access to affordable, sustainable and secure technology.

Enhancing tech access for CDCUs can allow them to scale capacity without increasing staff or opening additional branches — something that many credit union leaders say is a top need. 

"Our primary objective right now is to develop the digital tools necessary to appeal to the Hispanic market. With LA real estate prices, we do not have the capacity to build a network of branches,” Gary Perez, CEO of the CDFI USC Credit Union, said at Inclusiv's 2019 Annual LA Conference according to the Credit Union Journal. “We are creating the same web presence and lending systems we now have in English into Spanish." 

Still, "the modern credit union is highly dependent on technology," says Peter Rubenstein, VP of technology, innovation and analytics at Inclusiv. "Their core banking technology is very sophisticated, even at its lowest end." 

Many fintech companies offer tools that CDCUs could benefit from. But many of the roughly 400 CDCUs in Inclusiv's network are smaller in size and don't always have a dedicated IT staff to sift through these options. The FIT Center uses strategic fintech partnerships to bring equitable tech providers and CDCUs together.

In order to be selected as a fintech partner, "you've got to have evidence that you're doing this for the right reasons, that the mission of the company is looking to improve financial inclusion, and that you're looking to improve the financial health of low and moderate-income individuals," says Rubenstein. Inclusiv only partners with companies already working with credit unions. 

That's why Posh Technologies, a conversational AI provider for credit unions, was well-suited to be a partner of the FIT Center. As part of the partnership, Posh is offering its chatbot, Posh.ai, at a discount for Inclusiv members. "We both agree on the importance of community financial institutions,” says Karan Kashyap, CEO and co-founder of Posh AI. “We also share the same commitment to empowering local communities so their individuals can achieve financial goals," 

Tech companies tend to target the biggest enterprises. But Posh is different. "We’re focused on democratizing VIP banking experiences for all members of credit unions (large or small) by leveraging our AI technology," Kashyap says.

For businesses, conversational AI can overcome constraints like operational costs, staffing and availability of services, improving scalability. The AI-led conversations can also be adapted to offer a custom fit for the unique needs of CDCUs and their members. 

"The member service contact center is the most crucial touchpoint in the member’s relationship with their financial institution. It’s where they go to seek assistance with their financial goals, like planning for retirement, saving for college and taking out a loan," Kashyap says. 

Posh's AI solutions are trained on real-world banking conversations and use a type of AI called natural language processing (NLP). NLP gives computers the ability to understand language in the way human beings naturally speak. The services they’re offering to credit unions include a text chatbot and voice assistant for members, and a “knowledge assistant” for staff to answer customer questions more quickly.

Part of the appeal of AI for credit unions is to be available to their members 24/7 — even while having around-the-clock staffing is not feasible. 

"Families are struggling to find time to get everything done during the week,” Rubenstein says. “And that holds true even more for low and moderate-income families where their job perhaps gives them less flexibility to take time off during the workday to get things done.”

This story is part of our series, CDFI Futures, which explores the community development finance industry through the lenses of equity, public policy and inclusive community development. The series is developed in partnership with Next City.