Credit unions are in a unique position to help consumers enter the world of cryptocurrency and digital assets, according to professionals from Endwell, New York, Visions Federal Credit Union (VFCU). Joe Keller, VP Digital Assets, and Cynthia Schroeder, Senior VP Digital Assets, are working to make cryptocurrencies and digital assets easier to use. However, UC’s commitment to the educator role doesn’t stop at ensuring that staff and members can use these tools: VFCU is also working to increase industry awareness and gain thematic knowledge about crypto.
“Education is one of the most important things we focus on,” explains Schroeder. “We have spent a lot of time educating and raising awareness, not only for our employees, but also for our members and our industry.”
With fewer than 5,000 of VFCU’s 240,000 members buying cryptocurrencies through crypto exchanges, Keller believes it’s important to enable all members to learn, use, and buy these assets once they become mainstream.
“Our analysis indicates that we need to take action on this and get ahead of the tide,” he said. “I’d say it’s similar to the Internet adoption curve: It’s in that early to late 90s phase of ‘It’s a real thing.'”
eager to learn
The management of VFCU realized that most of the current content around cryptocurrency was created by crypto enthusiasts who wanted to encourage its use and investment, not by neutral parties who wanted to educate consumers about the risks, uses or how legitimate sellers of scammers could be distinguished.
“We take a very crypto neutral approach of ‘Hey, this is something you should ask about’, and as a financial institution for our members we want to provide them with different opportunities to learn and then empower them to make their own decisions. Keller said.
Keller and Schroeder’s team wrote articles for the quarterly magazine of the credit union and wrote website content designed to educate consumers about cryptocurrency. Internally, the team has created an intranet to guide employees, organized learning sessions during lunch breaks and created videos for employees to help them better understand this topic.
The team presents at conferences and has established a Digital Asset User Group to educate others in the industry about cryptocurrency. In addition to credit unions and credit unions, bimonthly meetings are also attended by providers and regulators.
Understand the power of cryptography
Cryptocurrency and digital assets may have the potential to make banking services more inclusive. They can also facilitate and reduce the costs of cross-border money transfers. In addition, cryptocurrency can bring potential members into credit unions who until now do not have a bank account, providing the opportunity to connect these consumers with services that can benefit them and improve their financial health.
Keller believes it is important to understand the revolutionary roots of crypto. “A die [coolest] parts of what crypto has tried to do is the question, “How can we facilitate the transfer of value between two parties in a faster and cheaper way?” but we haven’t quite seen him play yet,” he noted.
Credit unions are uniquely positioned to help facilitate such opportunities because of their emphasis on member relationships rather than profit.
“I’d say credit unions have a more unique, individual relationship with their members,” Keller said. “It’s about making sure that our members understand what their financial situation really looks like, what financial instruments are available to them and that they are able to [right] financial decisions.