‘Definitely not weeks’: VyStar leadership speaks out on day 7 of mobile banking blackout

JACKSONVILLE — VyStar customers have now been unable to access online banking for a full week.

We’ve repeatedly asked to speak with the credit union’s leadership to no avail, until Friday when we sat down with VyStar’s Chief Member Experience Officer and demanded answers to your most pressing questions.

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“It’s a pain in the butt,” said VyStar customer Mike Crocker.

Crocker had to walk 20 minutes in the 90-degree heat to access his VyStar account Friday.

We asked him what he would ask VyStar leadership if he had the chance.

“The question would be, for the inconvenience to your customers, your members, throw us a kickback,” said Crocker.

So, we took his question directly to VyStar’s Chief Member Experience Officer Joel Swanson.

“I understand the frustration that members have. We’ve waived all VyStar fees during this time to help any members that may have incurred fees during this time,” said Swanson.

But the most common question customers have is obviously when will the problem be fixed.

“I just wonder, like, when it will be up because not everybody has the power to come to the bank every day,” said VyStar customer Isaiah Johnson.

VyStar has avoided giving a set timeline for repairs.

So we pushed Swanson for an answer.

“Definitely not weeks,” said Swanson.

It’s a clearer commitment than we’ve heard thus far.

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For customers like Crocker, it means possibly a few more walks to the bank before all is said and done.

“People are not happy,” said Crocker.

IT expert Jimmy McGill works for a multinational company, but we spoke with him in his capacity as a VyStar customer on Friday.

Despite moving to Michigan, he’s stuck with the credit union for three decades.

It wasn’t ever an issue until this week when online banking crashed.

“I can’t go to a branch or anything so it’s very impactful,” said McGill.

Swanson told us out-of-state customers do have options to continue banking during the outage.

“Their debit card can work actually at ATMs nationwide as part of a network that we have through many leading retailer brands where they’ll be able to access their account free of charge at those ATMs,” said Swanson.

As for why the outage occurred, Swanson told us it was not a hack.

“We are 100% sure that this is not a cyber security incident or hack of any sort,” said Swanson.

Instead, Swanson said testing conducted prior to the launch of VyStar’s new app failed to simulate real world conditions and led to the “unforeseen circumstances.”

“Capacity is the primary issue that we experienced during this,” said Swanson.

McGill wasn’t fully satisfied with that answer, arguing the now week-long outage suggests to him, VyStar lacked a plan B.

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“You know, normally when I have a project going I have a fallback. You know, there has to be a fallback and usually that would be reverting back to the old system,” said McGill.

Swanson told us it’s an option VyStar has considered reverting to its old app, but switching back could result in members being cut off from other systems for weeks.

“We’re still exploring that as an option, but it’s not our primary option at this time,” said Swanson.

McGill said he doesn’t want to leave VyStar, but this whole debacle has him rethinking the credit union’s leadership team.

“I’m just ready for a clean sweep as far as that goes,” said McGill.

We asked Swanson what kind of accountability those responsible for the system failure will face.

“You know, any kind of online mobile banking system is a very complex conglomeration of vendor systems as well as partners that work together on this, and ultimately, I and our senior leadership team take responsibility for the inconvenience that our members have had during this time,” said Swanson.