local credit union integrates crypto service • St Pete Catalyst

local credit union integrates crypto service • St Pete Catalyst
local credit union integrates crypto service • St Pete Catalyst

The financial technology sector continues to grow throughout Tampa Bay, but many people are not fully aware of its everyday use. We highlight the companies and leaders who use fintech solutions to solve problems and grow their business. This is the functionality of Fintech.

To meet the demand of crypto-curious members, and with the blessing of the National Credit Union Administration, Dunedin-based Achieva is now the first credit union in Florida to provide its members with crypto services.

Achieva announced on Wednesday that members could buy and sell Bitcoin through their updated mobile application. The credit union realized that its members traded over $ 2.6 million in digital currency over the past year – and the innovative service allows them to forgo third-party apps and trade with their chosen financial institution.

“They (members) are very interested in really learning about it,” said Tracy Ingram, Achieva’s Digital and Infrastructure Manager. “And based on the feedback and patterns we’ve seen, we really wanted to give our members the educational opportunity so they can learn and work with us through our mobile app.”

Tracy Ingram, head of digital and infrastructure at Achieva, said the credit union’s entry into crypto was due to members’ curiosity and demand. Picture provided.

In late December 2021, the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) announced that federally insured credit unions could cooperate with third-party service providers of numbers. Kyle Hauptman, deputy director of NCUA, told Coindesk that credit unions saw endless outflows of cash to crypto exchanges – and many people, especially those who are new to crypto investments, would prefer to use their primary financial institution.

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Hauptman added that the financial services world “has always been adapting or dying”, and credit unions can follow the path to the now defunct Blockbuster Video if regulators prevented innovation.

Founded in Pinellas County in 1937, Achieva has a superior 5-star credit union rating from Bauer Financial. The financial institution has over $ 2.4 billion in assets and serves over 153,000 members through 22 branches from Hernando to Charlotte County.

Ingram used a restaurant analogy when describing what it means to be the first credit union in the state to offer crypto services.

“When you walk into a restaurant and you look at the menu, most restaurants have more than five things because they want to offer a lot of different options,” Ingram said. “So, that’s what we’re really looking at – offering different options to our members … we’re happy to offer something – first in Florida – that they’re really asking for …”

To launch the service, available as a widget integrated into the latest version of the Achieva app, the credit union partnered with Bitcoin-based company NYDIG. According to their website, NYDIG hopes to bring Bitcoin to Main Street by merging high technology with institutional finance to create a new era of financial products.

In December, NYDIG announced a $ 1 billion round of financing that brings the company’s total value to over $ 7 billion. According to a release, the financing will further develop the platform using recent upgrades to the Bitcoin protocol, including Bitcoin and Lightning payments, asset tokenization and smart contracts.

“We chose a reliable partner who has a well-established technical stack,” said Ingram. “We started this in early April, and we took a really good time – so we could spend the time our employees needed internally so they could get hold of the educational piece and try it out even before we launch.”

Achieva integrated its Bitcoin platform into its mobile app, without the need for third-party downloads. Screengrab.

Before the updated app was launched, Achieva allowed its employees to try the new service and gave them $ 10 to buy bitcoin. NYDIG gave an additional $ 5 to everyone who took advantage of the test drive. By clicking on the app’s Bitcoin widget, users can immediately see the current market price of the apex cryptocurrency, view their trading history and buy, sell and hold bitcoin.

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Achieva immediately charges funds from members’ accounts, and educational resources and customer service information are readily available. Ingram often emphasized the importance of the educational aspects – both for employees and consumers.

“It’s one of those things that’s happening in society and the world, that’s definitely focused on technology, and … it’s quite unique,” Ingram said. “It was very important for us to give them that time, so that if they needed a better understanding of what this is, and especially so that they can really experience the user interface that our members have … so that they can be the reliable advisor and work with our members. “

In February, NYDIG launched a Bitcoin Savings Plan that allows employees to convert part of their paycheck to bitcoin. Asked if Achieva employees could receive their salary in bitcoin, Ingram laughed and said: “not at this time.” During the three-week pilot program, however, the credit union’s employees bought over $ 2,500 in bitcoin.

Members must pay a transaction fee of 2% for crypto bought or sold through the app. NEW, and by proxy, Achieva, only offers Bitcoin at this time, but the company is looking to expand.

Ingram noted that the Tampa Bay region is becoming more “technology-centric.” As time goes on, she expects that more companies throughout the area and beyond will increasingly use blockchain technology for a number of applications.

“Of course we will continue to look at what is happening in the world and in society – what our members are asking for,” Ingram said. “We will really follow the regulations closely and how it changes so that we can meet our members’ needs and requirements as everything progresses.”

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