Osoyoos Credit Union: How a small BC credit union supports their members and community using Aura
Osoyoos Credit Union (Osoyoos) is a single branch credit union located in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, Osoyoos has been serving approximately 3,500 members since its inception in 1946. They are also the only locally owned and operated financial institution in Osoyoos.
With the rise of the global pandemic in 2020, bank branches across Canada were required to close their doors temporarily and members were forced to bank differently. As the world turned to digital payments, Osoyoos needed to find a solution that would allow their members to make payments online and in-store with a touchless option. Along with the need to switch to digital, the loss of the Global Payment Card left Osoyoos looking for a replacement card to offer their members.
Coaching members to go digital
Our challenge was to implement the Aura Loyalty platform at Osoyoos so that they could serve their members during the pandemic and keep the local economy stimulated.
Going digital has always been where the industry is headed, and Covid-19 has shown us that digital options are no longer a choice, but a necessity. Members need to be able to fulfill all their banking needs digitally with no brick-and-mortar interactions required. Going digital also makes more financial sense for credit unions, as digital channels can reduce operating costs by 30%-40%, causing net income to go up.
The town of Osoyoos is typically thought of as a retirement community, so their membership tends to skew toward an older demographic. Supporting these members that are used to in-branch banking and coaching them to go digital had been a struggle for Osoyoos even before the pandemic. One of the side effects of COVID-19 is that there has been an acceleration towards digital channels across industries that has created rapid behavioral change in demographics that would otherwise be resistant to this shift.
Not only did Osoyoos need to find a solution for their members to bank with them during the pandemic, but as a prominent part of the community, they were feeling pressure to provide guidance and strategies to stimulate the local economy.
A turnkey digital solution with on-going support
The Aura Loyalty platform is a pre-paid card and loyalty rewards program that enabled Osoyoos to stay competitive, provide an excellent digital experience to their members and stimulate their local economy.
We began our engagement by rolling out Aura’s Loyal2Local marketing campaign with Osoyoos’ employees. The program is centered around getting employees to test the Aura platform by providing them with money that is pre-loaded on their cards to shop and support local. Having employees test out the card helps them to understand how the card works and it’s benefits so they can more easily sell it to members. Giving them a first look also helps create the buy-in needed to promote Aura to members during the full roll-out.
The initial discussions about the Loyal2Local program included Celero’s Aura team meeting with all of the different stakeholders at Osoyoos to outline the different processes and how the program would work. Celero’s team includes a program manager with extensive experience in cards and payments that leads the strategic direction specific to each individual credit union, a business analyst that acts as the project manager and a marketing analyst that provides all marketing materials needed for a successful launch and uptake with members.
The program includes the 4–6 week Loyal2Local journey, operational processes, discussion and walkthrough to on-board employees, program management and life cycle, and next steps for launching to members.
Testing and rolling out
Osoyoos’s employees used the card for a few months while testing all of the features and shopping local. After employees had the opportunity to try the card and gave positive feedback, Osoyoos and their Board were impressed with the platform and decided to launch it to their members. The launch was scheduled for August 2020, so Celero’s program management and lifecycle management (acquisition, activation, spend and retention) process commenced.
The only cost that Osoyoos incurred to launch the card is the $6-$7 needed to pay for the plastic card that is issued to members, and funding for any merchant offers or acquisition offers. In turn, Aura offers a low cost digital platform that can be implemented in a short 4-6 week timeframe.
Providing all the necessary documentation and training to on-board members using a secure SFTP server and getting the members registered is one part of the turn-key solution. The second part is working closely with the credit union to provide all the marketing materials to promote the card to members. Marketing materials include teaser emails, launch emails, follow-up emails, social media templates, in-branch collateral, digital assets and web content.
Osoyoos outsources their marketing to an agency, so Celero’s marketing analyst worked closely with the agency to prepare all the materials for launch and ensure everything met the brand guidelines for Aura and Osoyoos. Continuous engagement via email and social media has proven to increase members sign-ups for the program.
The action plan to launch Aura to members
- Ensure Osoyoos employees were confident in the member onboarding process
- Create landing page with intake form for members to sign up
- Send teaser, launch and follow-up emails, and create social media posts
- Approach local businesses to be merchants on the offer carousel in the app
- Create acquisition campaign
- Ongoing marketing of Aura to members
A pre-paid loyalty card helps stimulate local community
Since launching Aura, Osoyoos has seen an increase in members joining the program every month, with an increase in overall spending on the card month-over-month.
Osoyoos has seen a 59% increase in their utilization to load ratio since launch of the program to members.
An increase in the utilization to load ratio over time has shown that members are engaged and using the product on a consistent basis. With this 59% increase, Osoyoos is above the 100% utilization to load ratio, meaning that their members are consistently spending what they are loading on the card. Anything over 80% is very good for a liability product so we are happy to see these numbers for Osoyoos.
Osoyoos also approached their local Chamber of Commerce to partner with in the launch of Aura to support local businesses. By engaging with local businesses and creating merchant offers, Osoyoos was able to build a strong relationship with their community and stimulate the local economy.
The Aura Loyalty program allowed Osoyoos to provide a digital payment option to members who didn’t have a credit card, and also filled the gap in online and contactless payment options. Not only did the card fill a gap for Osoyoos members, but it also provided members with many other features like a bill-split feature, peer-to-peer transfers and goal setting to help with money management and financial literacy.
We have struggled with marketing what sets us apart from other financial institutions in the area, but when we heard about Aura we realized it was perfect for us to amplify our core pillar of providing value to our community. Over the past three years, we have tried to promote various ‘shop local’ initiatives as it is hard to keep money in the local economy in small towns. Aura allowed us to find success in this area with its straight-forward programming and solid marketing approach built-in. We just focus on getting members to sign up for the card and the Aura team takes care of everything else. This included a really great launch strategy for our members and engagement with the local Chamber of Commerce. It has been a simple, low cost way for local merchants to market themselves on the Aura offer carousel that is in the hands of our 3,500 members. Overall, the Aura platform has helped Osoyoos Credit Union make a splash in our community.Greg Sol, CEO at Osoyoos Credit Union
Osoyoos Credit Union today
Since launching the Aura program, Celero has sat down with Osoyoos every month to look at the holistic product management life cycle and ensure portfolio optimization. Being flexible and coming up with new solutions to reach members and support the community has proven to be very successful for Osoyoos.
Employees and leaders are even coming with new use cases for the card, such as using it as a tool for power of attorneys to manage finances via the pre-paid platform for their dependents, reducing risk of fraud. Furthermore, updating local merchant offers on an ongoing basis has been essential in ensuring Aura users continue to spend locally using their cards.