Julie Esser

Chief Experience Officer, CULedger, LLC

Supernova Award Category: 

Digital Safety, Governance, and Privacy

The Organization: 

CULedger began its quest as a research-to-action project in early 2016 and has transformed into one of the largest distributed consortiums in the world.  CULedger’s first proof-of-concept project focused on reducing call center fraud and improving member experience by using a digital credential in a call center environment.  The success of this initial project led to the formation of CULedger as a credit union-owned CUSO in June 2017 and has developed at a rapid pace since its inception.  In 2018, more than 40 credit unions and other industry organizations invested in CULedger in its Series A round of funding.  

The Problem: 

CULedger is currently focused on developing MyCUID, the first global digital identity ecosystem for credit unions and their members to solve the following credit union pain points. 

  • The cost of compliance associated with data security and privacy continues to increase.
  • Increased member friction in remote channels.  40% of consumers are abandoning applications over authentication.
  • Managing multiple vendors and authentication methods for several applications.
  • Increased fraud across all channels and staying ahead of cybersecurity crimes.
  • The credit union market share in the financial services industry has remain stagnant at 7% for over 25 years. 

MyCUID aims to reduce member friction by enabling the digital identity to be used when walking into a branch, dialing into a call center and logging onto the credit union’s website or mobile app.  It will rely on biometrics and smartphone technology that already exists and will improve cybersecurity while reducing identity theft and fraud.  CULedger, using MyCUID, is targeting fraud because of the sheer size of the problem.  According to Pindrop’s latest annual Call Center Fraud Report revealed a significant increase in the fraud rate, a jump of 113% year-over-year.  For financial institutions, the rates are 1 in every 895 calls.

The Solution: 

The vision for CULedger is to deliver a premier network of digital exchange for financial cooperatives globally and will decentralize physical and virtual assets, automate agreements and enable self-sovereign identity for the credit union industry and for all interaction types—B2B, B2C, and C2C.  Arguably the key enabler of a digital ecosystem, after connectivity, is a trusted decentralized identity which enables participants in the ecosystem to recognize and authenticate each other quickly, easily, and securely. MyCUID, a standard global decentralized credential, is so foundation since every interaction a credit union has with their member starts with identifying who they are. 

For the consumer, MyCUID gives CU members control over their personal identifiable information, creating a truly secure and privacy-preserving flow of information. This privacy-by-design approach promotes balance, fairness, diversity, and competition in the digital economy.

The Results: 

The standard means of authenticating a member who calls into the call center requires a series of knowledge-based questions, which is a time consuming activity and doesn't improve the member experience.  


Using MyCUID in a credit union contact center channel, early results show that credit unions can gain the following benefits:

· Call center authentication time can be reduced to only a few seconds, a huge improvement from the industry average of 50 seconds. The time savings with higher-risk calls can be more than double the normal call. The frequent password reset calls can also be eliminated.

  • A 30-seat call center with almost 40,000 calls per month could add capacity and potentially free-up 5 FTEs.
  • The LexisNexis Risk Solutions 2018 True Cost of Fraud Study reports that financial institutions’ average cost of fraud in the call center environment has risen to $.58 per call. Over 70% of fraud losses are caused by identity theft and account takeovers. The MyCUID solutions could significantly lower these types of fraud. In the example above, that could potentially create an annual fraud loss reduction of almost $150,000.
  • In less than a year, the MyCUID solution can more than pay for itself from call center efficiencies and reduction in fraud losses. 
  • The ease in authentication will also improve call center employee engagement and potentially lower turnover.




We have two sets of metrics that we are benchmarking and tracking with our pilot deployments.  One set focuses on General MyCUID performance, like number of members that are using, the frequency of use, the number of channels, etc.  The set, that is defined below, focuses on just the use of MyCUID in a contact center environment.  We are just now establishing the benchmarks for these metrics and will be tracking them monthly. 


  • # of Contact Center Calls - Number of contact center calls made per month.
  • # of Contact Center Hours - Number of hours per day that contact center is available.
  • # of FTEs - Total number of contact center FTEs.
  • Average Call Time - The average call time (in seconds)
  • Target Answer Time - The targeted answer time (in seconds)
  • Shrinkage - The percentage factor that is used to measure anything that takes a MSR away from their ability to take member calls.
  • High Risk Calls - The number of high-risk calls received per month.
  • Password Resets - The number of password reset calls received per month.
  • Termination Costs - The one-time cost to terminate/sunset current authentication tool.
  • Cost per Call - The average cost per call for authentication.
  • Fraud Cost - The dollar amount of fraud per call.
The Technology: 

We provide a SaaS via a RESTful API that makes adding decentralized identity fast, safe, and simple for credit unions. CULedger is cloud-hosted and is underpinned by the Sovrin Network. Whereas developers and integrators that access Sovrin take weeks to months to be proficient, CULedger's clients have seen results in hours of development. This speed of development is based on the API that is focused on the unique needs of credit unions. CULedger's hosted agents are provided by Evernym.

Disruptive Factor: 

The following is a summary of some of the key learnings from our implementation/adoption to date. 

  • The use cases need to be broader than one specific channel (i.e., call center) and include transaction (i.e., KYC and lending solutions) in Phase 1 deployment for mass adoption.
  • Integration and interoperability are key requirements for MyCUID deployment.
  • Initial VOC feedback from consumers told us that MyCUID as a consumer-facing brand may not be as effective.
  • Credit unions are comparing MyCUID among other identity-related companies.
  • The key benefit for credit unions to adopt MyCUID is to provide a seamless authentication member experience across all services and channels.
  • The MyCUID pricing model needs to demonstrate cost savings in fraud and operational/resource expense, and must be affordable to deploy among the entire credit union membership.
  • An independent technical review validated that developing an independent, private network was not required to support and deploy MyCUID.

The credit union industry has historically built a high level of trust and satisfaction among their members.  Revelancy in the age of distruption is the challenge of our time.  In 2016, the President/CEO of the Credit Union National Association said it best, "Do we want to be the disruptor or do we want to be distrupted?" CULedger is the opportunity for credit unions to be the distruptors.


Shining Moment: 

I've been in the credit union industry my entire career (30+ years) and I have not seen initiative quite like this that will have a global impact.  I call them "goosebump moments".  We are leveraging the entire credit union community worldwide, which is made up of over 89,000 credit unions and over 260 million members.  Credit unions have never been in a better position to take advantage of this rare, global opportunity--not only to participate, but lead the way.

About Your Organization

Denver-based CULedger is a credit union-owned CUSO that focuses on delivering innovative applications to credit unions through its cross-border global distributed ledger platform. CULedger has pioneered new developments related to global self-sovereign digital identity that will further enhance the trust credit unions have with their members. learn more about CULedger, visit www.culedger.com.