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As a society, we value youth. And as an opportunity, youth is an important part of any credit union’s future growth strategy. That’s why every other article in the trade press talks about  Millennials – how to connect with them, how to engage them, how to work with them. While focusing on future growth is important, we shouldn’t forget opportunities that are right in front of our eyes.

Consider this:

“In 1950, some 200 million people were in the over-60 group; by 2000 the number had risen to 600 million and to more than 800 million in 2010. By 2050 the number will reach 20 billion. Globally, this older population is increasing at a rate of 2.6 percent per year, considerably faster than the current 1.2 percent annual growth in the population as a whole. Further, the 80 years and older group is increasing at 4 percent per year. By 2030, 36 percent of Germans, 30 percent of French, 30 percent of Chinese, and 22 percent of Americans will be older than 60.

“Consumer goods industries have a huge and rapidly increasing opportunity to provide aging consumers with the appropriate goods and services that serve their needs and expectations.” – Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestle.

Individuals 50+ own 67 percent of U.S. bank deposits. This makes them attractive targets for fraud and financial exploitation. Add to that increasing vulnerability because of failing health status, cognitive ability and social isolation. Among adults over 50 we find quite a few vulnerable decision makers, because of physical challenges and deficits in digital knowledge. Financial exploitation is the fastest growing form of elder abuse.

Regardless of age or health, everyone needs to bank. Credit unions have a duty to protect their most important assets: their loyal customers. We all have a vested interest in addressing the needs of our 50+ members.

Based on these insights, CO-OP Financial Services and MasterCard have partnered to take on this important challenge through a collaborative innovation program. The MasterCard Labs LaunchPad process brought together a team of developers, designers, experts on aging and business stakeholders. The team was tasked with coming up with a concept, building a prototype and presenting a go-to-market strategy – all within a five-day innovation sprint.

The development journey was based on the three-step process of human-centered design:

  • Observation: Observing the end-user, learning, and being open to creative possibilities
  • Ideation: Coming up with as many ideas as we could
  • Rapid Prototyping: Quickly building a simple prototype of our idea.

The goal was to design a product for people over 50 – something that would let them live their lives and forget their age. Beyond that, the goal was to design a delightful product and experience that people would love.

In our next post, we will share detailed insights and initial ideas that helped us to create the experience we were after.

In the meantime, you can help serving the financial needs of an aging population by signing up for the 2016 THINK Prize Challenge. Through our renewed partnership with OpenIDEO’s global community, we’re welcoming your participation to share your experiences and collaborate to create solutions that are smart, simple, secure, and tailored to older adults. CO-OP will award the 2016 THINK Prize to one or more Top Ideas resulting from this process.

Please join now and compete for the $10,000 THINK Prize.