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Customer Story

Corporate One Partners with Xebia to Make Payment Modernization Possible for its Member Credit Unions

Second-tier credit union leverages Software Factory as a Service (SFaaS) to accelerate agile transformation and prepare credit unions for the future of banking
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Described as “a credit union for other credit unions,” Corporate One Federal Credit Union has been providing premier investment, funding, and payment solutions to other credit unions for more than 70 years. This suite of services and solutions helps member credit unions manage cash effectively, grow their bottom line, and successfully compete with for-profit financial institutions.

Entirely owned and funded by its member credit unions, Corporate One is a nonprofit financial institution that needs to operate within a lean budget. Thrift is central to its mission, but the organization also needed to be able to offer innovative revenue-generating services to its member credit unions. By partnering with Xebia, Corporate One has gained access to the necessary development expertise in a way that’s scalable and cost-efficient, supporting agility.

Proven development expertise across multiple platforms and scalable access to resources and talent with industry-leading certifications guarantee skills and proficiency
With Xebia, Corporate One transforms credit unions into future-fit financial services organizations prepared to meet their members’ next-generation needs
With SFaaS model Corporate One gained access to the exact resources they needed in the right time frames for completing multiple complex projects

Agile innovation on a budget

Credit unions are member-owned nonprofit financial institutions that offer many of the same products and services as traditional banks, including liquidity, investments and payments. Because they’re not obligated to be profitable for their shareholders, credit unions can often offer their members better rates and lower fees than for-profit banks can. But being able to achieve their mission—serving their members—often requires them to operate within a lean budget.

As a second-tier financial services provider, Corporate One offers wholesale financial services to more than 750 of America’s 4,900 credit unions. These services include asset management, correspondence services, electronic payment services, lending, and assistance with a range of back-office functions.

Corporate One’s mission is to help its member credit unions reach their potential and drive the financial success of their own members. Achieving this aim requires keeping up with the rapid pace of digital transformation in the financial services industry. Members’ expectations are changing quickly as larger banks introduce digitally-enabled services including faster and real-time payments. If credit unions can’t continue to meet these expectations, they’ll lose membership. Corporate One’s role is to prevent this from happening.

“Back when check payments transitioned from paper to digital, we were there to help credit unions bring these technology-enabled services to their members,” explains Prashanta Pradhan, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at Corporate One. “Now things are changing again. Check volumes are declining, but so are ACH payment and wire transfer volumes. Instead, people want to be able to send and receive payments in real time.”

“But nobody goes to their credit union and says, ‘I want immediate payments, and if you don’t offer it, I’ll move my account somewhere else,’” Pradhan continues. “The credit union just loses the deposits. We’ve made it our North Star to help our credit unions get onto immediate payment rails now so that they can keep these members, and keep them happy.”

Building out the applications and APIs needed to enable credit unions to transition from faster to immediate payment isn’t a simple task. It requires the right development, quality assurance (QA), and software testing expertise at the right times in the development lifecycle. Xebia’s Software Factory as a Service (SFaaS) gave Corporate One access to everything they needed to accelerate innovation and deliver the capabilities their members needed—while staying on schedule and within budget.

When it comes to payments, credit union members’ expectations are changing quickly. We don’t want to spend a lot of time building, and we don’t want a technology that’s hard to maintain. Because of our relationship with Xebia, we can be sure we’ll always have the resources we need to maintain our code, without having to worry about finding scarce, highly-trained talent.
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Prashanta Pradhan EVP, Chief Information Officer, Corporate One Federal Credit Union

Building out a real-time payments rail to prepare credit unions for their industry’s future

Corporate One needed access to highly skilled resources, but their budget was limited. To find the best partner for the job, the company hosted a bakeoff. Four prospective partners participated.

“Xebia knocked it out of the park,” says Pradhan. “Their capabilities were exactly what we needed.”

In particular, the SFaaS model made it possible for Corporate One to gain access to the exact resources they needed, on the right time frames for completing multiple complex projects.

To be able to offer a real-time payment (RTP) rail to its members, Corporate One’s technical team needed to first understand the protocols that The Clearing House’s RTP network—the most widely-used real-time payments network in the U.S.—employed. Then, they needed access to The Clearing House’s payments platform, which was initially available only to larger financial institutions.

Once this had been established, Corporate One began to build out the capabilities that would enable their member credit unions to receive, send, and request real-time payments. It is also preparing to join FedNow, the Federal Reserve’s real-time payments network, which is projected to launch in late 2023. Corporate One has developed the necessary connectivity infrastructure on Microsoft Azure, using Azure Functions. Xebia has been with them every step of the way.

“With the SFaaS model, we had access to the kinds of talent we needed on the scale and schedule our projects required,” Pradhan says. “Let’s say we needed an OutSytems developer half the time, and a Salesforce developer for the other half of the time. Instead of paying two full-time salaries, we could lean on Xebia to provide both resources for the cost of one full-time person. Balancing costs in this way has been really critical for us.”

Corporate One has leveraged Xebia’s SFaaS model to provide them with a broad array of development capabilities ranging from initial build to QA testing, on platforms ranging from OutSystems to SharePoint and Salesforce. They needed to ensure that multiple third-party systems could communicate with their core system via APIs, and needed to build out a data orchestration hub for their platform.

“The comment I hear most often is that since we partnered with Xebia, technology is no longer a bottleneck to our operations,” Pradhan says. “Before, we were always fighting for resources, and struggling to figure out what to prioritize. Now we can do it all.”

Access to the right resources at the right time enables agility and cost savings

Corporate One’s far-reaching partnership with Xebia has made it possible for the credit union to focus internal resources on strategic initiatives, including its own agile transformation.

“Our product designers are internal resources,” Pradhan explains. “The primary doers are from Xebia. If there comes a time when we need to shrink our teams, we can do that. Need to expand? No problem. This partnership has allowed us to go agile.”

Xebia offers extensive resources to help its clients adopt agile practices within Xebia Academy, which includes comprehensive learning journeys for beginners, professionals, and experts in a variety of technical fields. Corporate One has taken full advantage of these resources to power its internal transformation.

Plus, with right-sized resources at hand, Corporate One has been able to focus on building out features and functionalities that it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to offer. The end result is that the organization is able to offer more high-impact services, including consulting and advisory services, to its member credit unions.

“Anytime we are saving money and doing things more efficiently, we are helping our members,” Pradhan says. “But with more free time, we are also able to provide credit unions with more extensive advice. If they want to obtain new technology-enabled capabilities, or move from the data center to Azure, we can tell them how it’s done, helping them get there more quickly and smoothly.”

If credit unions are to keep up with the digital banking landscape’s lightning-fast evolution, they’ll need to become agile and adopt a product mindset. Through its partnership with Xebia, Corporate One is showing them the way, transforming credit unions into future-fit financial services organizations prepared to meet their members’ next-generation needs.

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