USAA Invites Members to Dream Big, Help Solve Problems

By Benjamin Olivo

Pictured above: (left to right) Christee Kahn, Strategic Innovation Manager; Rochelle Tijerina, Director Product Management; Kevin McAdams, Strategic Innovation Manager

Since 2010, a USAA employee innovation program has used the spirit of competition to dream up ways to make life easier for USAA members. Now, members themselves are getting in on the action.

“Some of our most innovative employees may not have technical skills, but they are problem solvers,” says Alice Garcia, product management director in Innovation, Planning and Operations for USAA. “It’s that mindset of innovation that we’re looking to instill in our employees and our members, too.

USAA Labs is a community where members can suggest ideas for improving USAA services. The website had a soft launch in 2016, and USAA hopes to kick it into full gear this year. 

“We’re hoping that by engaging members directly and having them participate, we can identify problems faster and develop solutions,” Garcia says. 

On the employee side, a series of competitions has yielded some innovations that have become firsts in their respective industries

During one competition, Harmony Clauer-Salyers, a mobile software developer at USAA Bank, came up with a voice-guidance system that allows visually impaired members to deposit checks via a mobile device. The feature is called Voice Guided Deposits and is available on the USAA mobile app.

“The voice-guided device tells the member which way they actually have to move to center the device above the check to take a photo,” Clauer-Salyers says. 

Solving this problem came naturally to Clauer-Salyers, she says, and took her about 15 months from concept to development to realization. “Accessibility is something I’ve always been passionate about, so it’s natural for me to identify gaps. Figuring out how to solve them is the fun and challenging part.”

Visit the USAA Labs website to learn how you can discover, participate and provide feedback on the latest innovations. 


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Use of the term “member” or “membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change.

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