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Pioneers of Now: Minal Gupta of Star One on building an instant payments support network for credit unions

Minal Gupta is vice president of remote services at Star One Credit Union (Off-site), one of Silicon Valley's largest member-owned financial institutions.

We spoke with Gupta to learn about her team’s enthusiasm about the upcoming FedNow® Service launch and her passion for fostering collaboration across the industry.

Q: With the FedNow Service launch around the corner, can you describe Star One’s instant payments journey?

A: “As a credit union, we saw a lot of potential for how the FedNow Service could change the payments industry. When we first started this project and joined the FedNow Pilot Program, we were so glad that the payments industry was realizing the importance of broader access to instant payments. Star One plans to be live when the service launches in July, with the capability to both send and receive payments.

“To get to this point, we partnered with Tyfone (Off-site) — our digital banking provider — and have been working closely with them in a way that is cost-effective and efficient for our organization. We consider them part of our team, and we all see tremendous benefits in the FedNow Service and how it will impact the future of payments. So, we are eager for launch.”

Q: As an organization that plans to offer the service at launch, what are some benefits of early adoption?

A: “We wanted to be among the first financial institutions live on the FedNow Service, because we saw a clear vision for this service. At the same time, we want to continue being the primary financial institution for our members, with the ability to attract new members.

“As an early adopter, we can demonstrate the value of the FedNow Service and help carve a path for smaller credit unions that may want to serve their members better. We are in this together, and when we think about other credit unions, we consider them part of a larger family. Within the credit union community, anybody can pick up the phone and call Star One, and we will share our experience with the FedNow Service, because we want to see them thrive.”

Q: Instant payments are something the payments industry understands well. When it comes to your credit union members, why is access to instant payments important?

A: “One of the biggest things we have noticed is that our members want to move money yesterday. They like to move money between Star One and other financial institutions in real time and when it's convenient for them. Offering instant payments from the get-go has been a crucial part of our strategy because that simplified money movement is important to our members. In the long run, we also see that the FedNow Service could minimize usage of our ACH system and other methods for moving money between financial institutions, because there will be an easier, simpler way that will gradually get adopted as more financial institutions use the service.”

Q: You just mentioned account-to-account (A2A) payments. Are there any other instant payment use cases that might benefit your members?

A: “Along with A2A, we're looking forward to the bill pay capability to give consumers the ability to pay merchants and potentially, make loan payments. Unlike some of the other person-to-person (P2P) products out there, the FedNow Service is cost-effective for us and settles in real time with the safety net of being offered through the Federal Reserve.”

Q: What knowledge have you gained from implementation and resource planning so far?

A: “Our biggest takeaways have been believing in the service, believing in our staff and making sure we choose the right partners. We just had a three-day session where the Tyfone team flew in from Portland to gather an entire team dedicated to working on the FedNow Service. And there was this buzz in the room, because we believe that we are not only innovating to shape the future of payments, but also leading and carving a path for some of the smaller organizations that may feel that instant payments adoption is an unattainable goal.”

Pioneers of Now represent engaged financial institutions and service providers united by their commitment to early adoption of the FedNow Service (Off-site), which will launch in July 2023. This is the seventh in a series of ongoing Pioneers of Now features (Off-site).