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A Texas credit union taps BeyondID’s Okta skills to meet the Apple Card standard in CX

Stephanie Condon Profile picture for user Stephanie Condon August 23, 2023
Aiming for a more seamless customer experience for its members, Texas Dow Employees Credit Union (TDECU) is implementing an access management system with the help of Okta specialist BeyondID.

Hands of man at laptop superimposed with digital banking icons © anyaberkut via
(© anyaberkut via

In the world of banking, digitized services have become the norm. But according to John Gallo, an IT executive at a Texas-based credit union, the Customer Experience (CX) standard for those services wasn't set by any major bank — it was the world's largest tech company. Speaking to diginomica, Gallo says:

Look at the [launch of the] Apple Card from several years ago -- you could sit at a Starbucks and by the time you went to the line, you had an open credit card, and then a card you could charge by the time you were ready to order. They reset the line for everybody that day.

Gallo is VP of Infrastructure and Information Security at Texas Dow Employees Credit Union (TDECU). He's helping the business modernize its digital services -- no small effort for an institution that serves around 375,000 members and holds about $4.7 billion in assets.

With so much at stake Gallo has kept TDECU's modernization efforts grounded in a basic principle — delivering the best customer experience. He explains:

How do we improve the experience and the digital presence, whether a customer is reaching us through a phone call or website or more online mobile banking? We have all these different omni-channel [services]... connected in multiple different areas...

The number one goal of our organization is employee and member experience. If my IT team behind the scenes can improve the user experience, we can thus improve the member experience.

Making the business case

To create a more seamless member experience, Gallo sought to tie the credit union's services together via a customer identity access management (CIAM) platform. TDECU has tapped Okta specialist BeyondID to help it build its new system — a multi-million dollar investment that's currently in a pilot phase. Instead of members having to sign into separate applications for each of the institution’s services, they will ultimately have a single sign-on for everything. Gallo explains the experience the project aims to deliver:

If you're already a customer of ours and want to use mobile banking... there's no new sign-up process. You can automatically log into the platform. If you're not a customer, we would use the Okta platform to register you and store your data and help direct you towards online mobile banking.

But if you wanted a loan application, we could send you to that instead, or if you want an appointment, we can refer you to our appointment scheduler. Now, instead of having 14 applications and all of these different places to log in, we are going to change that experience so you just log in once.

Creating a more integrated experience seems like a clear win for members, but Gallo says the project stalled at the outset because his team initially failed to make the business case for CIAM and the potential to boost take-up of additional services. He says:

We realized we didn't create a business story that made the business side understand the value. They didn't understand the acquisition capabilities that are there. So when we first started, they weren't interested — it's just more security stuff, they thought. You know, you security guys want to put more controls on us. We did not sell it right.

As a managed identity services provider, BeyondID won TDECU's business for a few key reasons, starting with its own emphasis on the end user experience. With that, came the expected benefits of fraud reduction and enhanced security standards. Gallo adds:

BeyondID was the only one that was willing to take our legacy code, the Okta system and their APIs, and write one interface so that our systems could then talk to Okta.

Hybrid infrastructure

Implementing CIAM is one of several projects that Gallo has overseen over his 10 years with TDECU. He says:

I've basically been over everything from app development to PMO to the data team, infrastructure, information security, enterprise risk -- all of those areas in 10 years. I kind of work in those areas, build up a small team, and then we hire somebody and I pass it off and move to the next troubled area.

Gallo also moved TDECU off of its outdated infrastructure. He explains:

We moved into an outsource model with CyrusOne, which was the best decision we ever made. We've been through hurricane after hurricane, storms, floods -- we've never had an issue. We learned that if you need a plumber, you call a plumber, right? And we were not data center people. So we went to a company that was data center.

Now, TDECU is following a roadmap that will hasten its journey to a true hybrid cloud strategy. Gallo says:

In our scenario, being in the cloud in production is tough for us because it can be as much as a 10x cost increase, the way our systems are established. But our development is self-contained, so that's cost effective in the cloud. And it gives us the ability to be an agile environment — to make changes and quickly implement things.

Taking an agile approach, TDECU is aiming to officially launch its CIAM platform in the fourth quarter of this year, beginning with its mobile banking app. The credit union will add other applications beginning next year.

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