Mastering the Art of Banking Innovation for Our Members


Consumers' podcast graphic with image of the Mastercard and Consumers Credit Union team smiling in a group photo.

On this week’s episode of Money, I’m Home, Lynne is joined by MasterCard’s Paul Tobin and Monica Chung, as well as Consumers’ Vice President of Payment Katie Warren to discuss the credit union’s recent recognition with the 2023 MasterCard Innovation Award.



0:00:07.1 Lynne Jarman-Johnson (LJJ): Money, I’m home. Welcome in, I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union, from finance to fitness, we’ve got it all. Today, we’ve got winners! I am talking about a four-piece, sometimes you get to work with partners that build you up, that boost you, that help you become better just by doing business with them. And I’ll tell you what, you as a member, if you’re listening right now, if you’re seeing this, you’re meeting two very important people, a third one, too, because she keeps it all rocking. But the two are from MasterCard, which is our exclusive partner here at Consumers Credit Union, that keeps you being able to bank where you want, when you want. So, let me introduce you to three very important people, first off, we’re going to start with Katie, Katie Warren is our Vice President of Payments, and she’s got some really exciting news to talk about today. We have Paul Tobin, who’s the Vice President at MasterCard, that’s very swanky, don’t you think? We also have Monica Chung, she’s a director here at MasterCard and I’m telling you what, today, they have brought some hardware, I understand. So, I’m going to start with you, Monica, you walked in today and you said, “Lynne, it’s a four-piece.” What does that mean?

0:01:18.4 Monica Chung (MC): That means that Consumers Credit Union has not only won this year an innovation award, but has won the previous three years as well, once we first started our Segment Awards four years ago.

0:01:30.1 LJJ: Well then let’s go to that, Paul. What are the awards and how do you decide, what categories and is it pretty easy? We’re going to ask Katie if it’s easy to apply.

0:01:40.0 Paul Tobin (PT): It’s easy to apply, it’s not easy to win. So, basically what it is is every year we try to give back to the communities and what you guys do for your members. And like Monica just said, for four years in a row, you guys have been awarded the exclusive Segment Award for Innovation, which is tremendous.

0:01:55.9 LJJ: It’s absolutely crazy. Now we’ve had some great partnerships that help us build, what we then input into the award ceremonies. Katie, this year was so exciting, because it was something that everybody worked on so hard here at Consumers. Tell us a little bit about… What was the thought of, “What are we going to submit this year?”

0:02:16.3 Katie Warren (KW): Sure. So, this year we had a lot of member feedback that our wait times were getting longer in the drive-through. We use our TellerPlus+ stations, and we just wanted to make everything more convenient and quicker for our members. So, we worked with other partners, NCR and N-One, to work on some new software to reroute calls to go through our system faster, so that way we could serve our members faster.

0:02:40.2 LJJ: Well, you know what’s funny when you think about member service, we’re always trying to excel one step better, one step better, this though was really a pain point. All of us know, if we are waiting in a line, no matter where it is, if we’re shopping, if we’re going to a restaurant, you just sit and wait and wait and wait. And then when something that all of a sudden, the minute we heard there’s something going on in our teller’s drive-through system, what do we have to do? How big of a job is that to get everybody together?

0:03:09.6 KW: It’s a lot. We have several partners that we utilize for the software. We had to work with other partners’ engineers, we had to help them understand the impact it had to our members first and foremost. I grew up hearing busy signal, and we don’t have that in our drive-through, but it was the equivalent to that. So, somebody my age, you’re basically sitting there going, “Eh, eh, eh,” and nobody’s picking up. And so, any amount we could reduce that wait time for our members and get their needs served faster was a huge win. And we were able to do that, we actually reduced the wait time by 12 seconds!

0:03:46.9 LJJ: 12 seconds, which again, when you think to yourself 12 seconds, “Alright everybody, we could sit here now for 12 seconds.” Silence, okay, four seconds was long enough, see what I’m saying? This is what we’re talking about. Hey, Paul, tell us a little bit about why you came up with these awards? And really what you’ve seen that has been just so eye-opening across the country?

0:04:07.9 PT: Yeah, I’ve said this before, but members are loyal to your brand, they’re not loyal to MasterCard. So, we look at ourselves as Consumers’, we’re your silent partner and your silent engine to help you grow and prosper across the enterprise. And what I specifically love about Consumers is there’s a charity category for the Segment Awards, we want to reward our community institutions for doing well and doing the things differently in the community. I’m not going to say it’s easy to apply for the charitable award, but you’re giving money, you’re giving your time, volunteer. The thing about Consumers is, you’re truly innovative and you change the dynamic of the marketplace. So, by Katie’s innovation allowed for quicker times you can help with their member’s experience, help them with their financial wellbeing. So, it’s truly adding value in the marketplace that’s really resonating for Consumers, which is fantastic.

0:04:57.0 LJJ: One of my favorites actually was, it might have been the first one we won, I think.

0:05:03.4 PT: Yeah.

0:05:03.5 LJJ: And it was, we partnered for a charitable cause and also through Art Prize in downtown Grand Rapids, with one of our business partners who’s a jeweler, Craft Revival Jewelry, our wonderful business partner, Nothing Bundt Cakes. And the innovation of creating a giant QR code before people really knew what QR codes were, I think that was really interesting. If we did it again, I guarantee you we’d make triple the amount of money, just because everybody now knows how to scan a QR code, after the pandemic.

0:05:34.8 MC: Absolutely.

0:05:35.3 LJJ: But tell me, Monica, what is it that you see in these awards? And it doesn’t have to be Consumers, where is it that you’ve seen just this wow factor of people really doing good?

0:05:46.9 MC: Yeah, I think across the segment when it comes to community institutions, the main underlying theme, like Paul said, is that members and customers are loyal to your brand, and they’re loyal to the institutions across our segment. So, when it comes to doing well by doing good, it’s seeing all of the different volunteer opportunities across the segment as well as the giving back to the communities and making the large impacts on these smaller, more metro or rural communities that we see. So, that has to be the biggest impact that we see across the segment definitely.

0:06:18.0 LJJ: How much does it mean to our team, Katie, when we receive this award?

0:06:22.8 KW: It’s great. I mean, over the last four years we’ve got to pull different groups in that have contributed to getting the award. You mentioned the one for Art Prize, that was very interesting, because it had so many groups from the credit union that had glued, literally glued [laughter] debit cards to make a QR code, a huge QR code. This one’s really special because part of my department helped with the software piece and then our whole digital teller team, they worked with members, they’re the ones talking to our members every single day, they’re the ones saying like, “Yep, thanks for waiting. We appreciate that you’re waiting for us.” So, we just have so many neat departments within the credit union that contributed to this. So, having them come meet Monica and Paul today to celebrate the award is really great. And it helps energize us and motivate us to do more.

0:07:11.6 LJJ: Well, not only the awards which we are so thrilled to receive today, MasterCard does so much across the country. One of my favorites is Stand Up to Cancer, it’s such a joy to see what you’re doing on a national and global scale to make a difference, not only for credit unions like ours, but for everyday people.

0:07:32.6 PT: Yeah. No I thank you, Lynne. You’ll find that our values, MasterCard values, financial, inclusion, diversity, helping others, resonate so well across the United States from the community inclusion space. And the thing which I love about Consumers is you’re not only giving back to your community from a volunteer perspective, but what separates Consumers to be honest with you, is the also the innovation piece that’s making your ability to serve and help in financial needs of your members, so unique. And that’s what separates Consumers from so many other Credit Unions around the United States.

0:08:04.7 LJJ: Well, we do feel pretty special, don’t we Katie?

0:08:06.9 KW: We do.


0:08:08.0 LJJ: And you know what, you are special too for listening. Thank you so much. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Money, I’m home!


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