CUs Pick Testing Agenda at San Francisco Symposium

The Lab at Filene's first-ever Lab Symposium in San Francisco.
The Lab at Filene's first-ever Lab Symposium in San Francisco.

Leaders from three California credit unions recently joined other industry colleagues from around the nation to participate in The Lab at Filene's first-ever Lab Symposium in San Francisco. The research initiative is moving forward in testing new innovative products and ideas to help credit unions grow and make a positive impact on their members and communities.

Held at Visa’s innovation center, credit union sponsors and stakeholders convened to set Filene Research Institute’s 2023 testing agenda, share perspectives on emerging innovation opportunities, and establish connections among the group of innovation-minded organizations. Filene — an independent think-tank named after early credit union movement supporter and “father” Edward Filene — strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial wellbeing.

At the symposium, sponsors of The Lab at Filene voted on which ideas they want to pursue further testing on from a menu of options identified through Filene’s ecosystem of academic talent, communities, and strategic partners. Five ideas rose to the top as having high potential to fuel growth and maximize member and community impact, while also addressing key — yet unanswered — questions:

  • Financial Wellness as Engagement Strategy — How can credit unions expand member relationships by providing tailormade plans to improve financial wellbeing?
  • Re-thinking Physical Space — With digital transformation of financial services, how can credit unions leverage physical space to create value for members and communities?
  • Subscription-based Pricing Model — Could a subscription model for banking products and value-added services increase engagement with existing and prospective credit union members?
  • Virtual Credit/Debit Cards — Can virtual credit/debit cards help reduce fraud and create a “sticky” member service?
  • Digital Engagement for Indirect Lending — How can credit unions best relay what they can offer to indirect members and successfully expand their relationships?

“We’re thrilled to reach this milestone and excited to work on these tests,” said Filene Senior Director of Incubation Josh Sledge. “We also look forward to continuing our work with The Lab sponsor community. We have some fantastic leaders, innovators, and supporters in the mix.”

The Lab at Filene’s founding sponsors include (with those from California in bold): Bank Fund Staff FCU; Chartway CU; Community Financial CU; Elements Financial; ELGA CU; Farmers Insurance FCU; Financial Plus CU; Logix FCU; Michigan State University FCU; Origence; Royal CU; Unitus Community CU; University CU; Visions FCU; Verity CU; and Visa.

Next-steps for The Lab at Filene entail creating detailed plans for each of the five test concepts and assessing which lab sponsor organization will test which concepts. From there, The Lab at Filene will conduct tests and produce actionable insights for credit unions to adopt proven solutions and expand their capacity for innovation.

Each test identified through the lab’s first round of testing opportunities provided a solution within one of four categories: new and expanding relationships, new ways to open credit access, remixing the value proposition, or competing for share of wallet.

Participants said having their credit unions as sponsors of The Lab at Filene provided an opportunity to work with other forward-thinking credit unions in a collaborative effort to support and shape future solutions that have the potential to improve the financial wellbeing. Others said this type of work sets credit unions up for success, pairing resources that none have time to build-out individually — with actionable results that enable credit unions to better serve members. Having a central hub for ideas to be tested and vetted will help all credit unions support members, they added.

The following Filene Center of Excellence for Innovation and Incubation sponsors also took part in creating The Lab at Filene’s agenda: Canvas CU; Illinois Credit Union League; WEOKIE FCU, and Coastal CU.

Credit union and system partners can still get involved in The Lab at Filene by becoming a sponsor. Visit to learn more, or email Josh Sledge at

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