The Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine and the Filene Research Institute – a credit union and consumer finance think tank in Wisconsin – have launched a research hub at UCI dedicated to the study of how emerging technologies affect credit union business practices and clients.

“We are delighted to partner with Filene to explore how credit unions can leverage trends in mobile banking and other technological interventions,” said IMTFI director Bill Maurer, dean of UCI’s School of Social Sciences. “The IMTFI has established itself as the premier research center on the impact of financial technology – fintech – on people’s personal and commercial banking practices, and we look forward to helping credit unions continue to create opportunities that meet the demands of changing consumer behavior.”

The Filene Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology – part of the School of Social Sciences, as is the IMTFI – is led by visiting Filene research fellow Richard Swart, co-author of Crowdfunding: The Corporate Era. He has been a research scholar in the Institute for Business & Social Innovation at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business; is an adviser to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and works with several other prominent foundations, think tanks, funds and corporations.

“Richard is a highly trusted expert on technology and innovation for governments, academics and businesses,” said Andrew Downin, managing director of research at the Filene institute. “Credit union leaders will benefit from Richard’s keen insights into a variety of fintech topics that are relevant to maintaining strong member relationships amid an environment of increasing regulation and data threats.”

The first report to come out of the UCI center, expected later this year, will explore the drivers of financial technology change and consumer adoption. It will include recommendations to help credit union leaders make wiser decisions, according to Swart.

“Filene has an incredible record of scholarship and providing insights to its credit union members,” he said. “This center is a fantastic opportunity to research how credit unions can leverage technology innovations and remain competitive. I am honored to join with Filene and UCI’s great faculty and graduate students to help guide this research.”

Filene members and other industry leaders are invited to attend an all-day research colloquium, “Sorting the Hype Cycle,” on May 18 at UCI. Distinguished presenters including Swart will lead a series of discussions on the types of technology that credit unions should consider adopting, competing against or investing in. Registration information can be found at https://filene.org/join/event/center-for-emerging-technology-colloquium.

-Heather Ashbach and Pat Harriman, UCI

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