Partners will soon introduce a brand-new online banking solution. We sat down with the VP of Digital Services, Rob, and the Digital Services team to talk about the new platform, all of its exciting features, and how it will benefit Members.
Rob and his team rolled out a new mobile banking app, Partners Mobile Banking 7, back in August 2019. Since that launch, they’ve added Partners online banking to their focus and they’ve been working on replacing the current solution with a new one. The emphasis has been on developing an overall new platform that gives Partners the flexibility to do a lot of really cool things once the new site is launched. “We started working on the site, in earnest, last August,” he says. “Usually something like this takes a year to a year and a half. But we already went live with a Member preview on April 7, so it’s been a relatively quick turnaround.”
According to Rob, the age of the existing online banking solution was the catalyst for developing and implementing a new solution. “Our current online banking is functional, but we’re running into a couple of different things,” he explains. “Number one, it’s pretty old. The experience using it is not great and it also looks old. Number two, it’s what I like to call brittle. It is not very flexible, and it was getting harder and harder to add anything new.”
“We were already building out the front end of the application, so we decided to overhaul the back end, too,” Dave, a software Engineer and Developer on the Digital Services team, says. “So, we’ve gone to what is referred to as a microservice strategy that’s based on building smaller business components. What that does, basically, is make the application far more secure, more scalable, and easier to maintain.
“The back end used to be very large, but now we’ve broken it up into its component parts,” Dave continues. “So, for example, if one piece goes down, it doesn’t bring down the whole app, whereas before, if one part did come down, it would affect the entire app.”
Digital Services Software Engineer and Developer Scott, says that there is no real interactivity with the older model. “Our new platform will be able to incorporate more interactive elements than we’ve been able to in the past”, he points out. “Our old system is still quite solid, but it doesn’t act like websites act nowadays. When you click on something, the entire page reloads. You’re always leaving the screen, so page loads can take a long time.”
“With the new site, we can now have some context sensitive things,” Rob adds. “On the current site, the commands are always in the same place on every page. On the new site, if you go to the checking account page, for example, the transfer option shows up there because you have that option, but other places where it doesn’t make sense to transfer, it’s not shown. There’s also a quick action section on each page that shows you what’s relevant to that particular page. It’s thought out really well.”
The new interface also allows for a lot of little things that will improve Members’ overall experience with online banking, such as the ability to view more checks than ever before. “Additionally, this microservice enables Members to select different products and mark them as favorites,” Software Engineer and Developer Maria adds. “So, if they are currently interested in, for example, loans or mortgages, they can mark it as a favorite and they will be able to see everything related to loans and mortgages and get quicker access.”
Along with the technological upgrades, the dynamically loading pages and other streamlined features, the website is also getting a new look. “We’re incorporating some elements from the mobile app so that it will have more of a Disney look and feel,” Rob says. “The login screen will feature a Partners statue, for example, and there is a much more modern take on it, in general.” In addition, since many Members access online banking from their phones or tablets, the Digital Services team was careful to make sure that the new site would work well on both phones and tablets.
Security is always top of mind for the Digital Services team. To prepare for the launch they’ve been conducting extensive testing and will continue to do so once the site is live. Digital Services Quality Assurance (QA) and Tester Aalan says they have created nearly 500 tests on both the interface and all of the business logic behind it. “Testing takes a lot of time,” Aalan points out. “We have the capacity to trigger automatic tests and we can let them run through the night. Then we can look at the results in the morning and see what failed. It’s one of the things that we’re focusing on, and the developers are doing a great job maintaining it. We want to make sure that the Members have a great experience while using it.”
The plan is to release the new site as a preview to give everyone a sneak peek, get some early feedback, and make sure they’re on the right track. “When you go to the current site, you’ll see a graphic on the right that’ll say, ‘Click here to check out the Member preview,’” Rob says. “From there, you’ll log in to the Member preview where we’ll have about 60 to 80 percent of the same functionality available. You’ll be able to take a look, do your banking, and give us feedback. That’s really important to us. We’d love some feedback so that we can make adjustments for the full launch.”
Rob and the Digital Services team are excited to share the new site with Members, and to see what the future holds with this new online banking solution. “If you look at the number of members who access our website, it’s an important one,” he says. “And we don’t take it lightly. We understand that this is one of the key ways that people interact with the Credit Union. So, we’re spending a lot of resources and time on it and we’ve put a lot of thought into it. There are a lot of amazing things that we want to do.”