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Council paper provides tips to maximize mobile banking

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MADISON, Wis. (1/3/12)--A new white paper from the CUNA Technology Council, "Maximizing Mobile Banking's Potential," provides guidance on how credit unions can get the most from implementing mobile banking.

Mobile banking usage is predicted to increase to 30% of U.S. households in 2015 from 11% in 2012, with the number of individual users exceeding 50 million, according to the white paper by Dale Davaz, director of eBusiness at Spokane Teachers CU.

The paper, based on data gathered as part of a recent survey of $1.5 billion asset Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash., members about their mobile phone usage and mobile banking interests, discusses the different implementation options available, the features of most interest to users, and potential security concerns that should be considered by credit unions looking to offer mobile banking.

The survey began by asking respondents about the mobile phones they currently own, have owned and hope to own in the next 12 months. About 87% reported owning smartphones presently, with Google Android devices (40%) and Apple iPhones (27.8%) dominating that ownership.

Users at Spokane Teachers CU want to interact through apps downloaded and installed to use the features of their smartphones. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents, 64.9%, expressed a preference for downloaded apps. Another 14.9% reported a preference for accessing the credit union's regular online banking site via their smartphone's larger touchscreen browser. About 7% said they'd be most likely to engage mobile banking through a mobile website formatted for small mobile browsers.

CUSO adds first owner in California Iowa

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (1/3/12)--Xtend Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based multi-owned cooperative credit union service organization (CUSO), has added two credit unions to its ownership ranks--both representing the first owner from their respective states. 

Inland Valley FCU, Fontana, Calif., with $36 million assets, and Des Moines (Iowa) Police Officers CU, with $35 million assets, became the 61st and 62nd owners of the CUSO, respectively.

Xtend is now owned by stockholders in 15 states.

The CUSO, which celebrated its ninth anniversary last month, officially began operating on Dec. 10, 2002. It was formed as a cooperative venture by 11 credit union unions and fellow Grand Rapids-based CUSO CU*Answers Inc. as equal owners.

Today, Xtend's products and services support about 150 credit unions and CUSOs.

Better Branches releases cross-selling solution

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SAN FRANCISCO (12/30/11)--Better Branches LLC, a technology provider specializing in front- and back-office workflow solutions for financial institutions, has released a cross-selling solution that equips front-line staff to make offers to members, record the outcome, and provide real-time reporting to management.

Offers Made Easy uses information already available to credit unions to help marketing staff centrally create member-specific offers that become immediately available to front-line staff for delivery to the member during their next contact.

Credit unions do not need a member customer information file (MCIF) system to employ Offers Made Easy, but MCIF data can be used if available, said the company.

Offers Made Easy is a break-through for smaller credit unions--those with fewer than 75,000 members--that were previously unable to deploy member-specific offers due to cost and technical complexity, said Rick Poulton, Better Branches president.

ProfitStars introduces Mobile Website platform

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MONETT, Mo. (12/29/11)--Technology provider ProfitStars has introduced a mobile website platform.

The new platform supports an expanding banking channel with websites developed specifically for smaller screens and on-the-go functionality.

Each site is fully customizable, can be live in weeks, and is hosted by ProfitStars.

Financial institutions can make ongoing updates using the platform's content management system (CMS).

"Mobile has evolved to be an integral banking channel that more and more consumers expect their financial institutions to provide," said David Foss, ProfitStars president. "Mobile Website is designed to help banks and credit unions of all sizes expand the conveniences of online banking into the mobile market in a way that is affordable and user-friendly."

ProfitStars has designed and currently manages and hosts more than 1,000 financial institution websites. It also offers optional comprehensive website reviews to help financial institutions prepare for Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council examinations.

Profitstars is a division of Jack Henry & Associates.

Ongoing Operations acquires Cloudworks

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (12/28/11)--Ongoing Operations, a provider of business continuity and technology solutions to credit unions nationwide, has acquired Cloudworks, a cloud-based solutions provider.

Ongoing Operations is a CUNA Strategic Solutions provider.

"Technology is clearly shifting toward the cloud, which will change the way organizations manage everything from desktops to disaster recovery," said Kirk Drake, CEO of Ongoing Operations.

"Credit unions are known for pooling their resources to gain greater efficiencies and we see this as another opportunity to facilitate that collaboration by integrating Cloudworks' proven platform into our primary operations," he added.

EMC National Life introduces member benefits for CUs

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DES MOINES, Iowa (12/27/11)--EMC National Life has introduced the Credit Union Member Protection Program--an increasing whole life insurance plan, in which the face amount of the policy is guaranteed to increase until in doubles.

The program offers participating credit unions the opportunity to generate non-interest, recurring fee income, EMC National Life said.

to benefit from helping their members with financial protection options."

"It is a great benefit, especially for singles and young families whose lives move fast and who need coverage that can keep up with their increasing need for financial protection," said Paul Straubel, who is the national representative for the program.  

Coverage is available for both members and their spouses with three qualifying questions.

EMC National Life is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

Qwickrate offers investment options for Calif.Nev. CUs

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ONTARIO, Calif. (12/22/11)--QwickRate Inc, a new business partner of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, offers a marketplace for non-brokered funding and investing for credit unions.

The Marietta, Ga.-based company will provide California/Nevada league-member credit union subscribers instant access to a nationwide listing of more than 3,000 pre-screened institutions so they can find the best certificate of deposit (CD) returns, the league said.

QwickRate offers alerts on CD maturity, rate and history of institutions. It also offers automated tools so credit unions can track investments, including those with third-party sources such as brokerage firms and corporate credit unions. Credit unions can also use the tools to determine which investment options are right for them.

In California, 139 credit unions subscribe to QwickRate. Overall, QwickRate has more than 1,300 credit unions and more than 2,000 community bank subscribers.

Building lifetime value is CUNA Council paper topic

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MADISON, Wis. (12/22/11)--Credit unions looking to build the value of their memberships must look beyond revenues and expenses and instead understand each member's contribution to the credit union, according to a new CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council white paper.

"Building Member Lifetime Value" discusses strategies used by credit unions to leverage member lifetime value to drive revenue and profitability.

Member lifetime value (MLV) is a measure of each member's contribution to the credit union based on margin, retention rate and cost of capital.

Author Jeff Rendel explains that credit unions can improve their capability to grow more profitable member relationships by:

  • Calculating each member's profitability and their lifetime value;
  • Measuring and increasing the membership-retention rate;
  • Increasing the sales-based engagement and results of frontline leaders;
  • Making the most of on-boarding and outbound marketing programs;
  • Increasing the loyalty of members already loyal to your credit union; and
  • Benchmarking the credit union's sales culture, functions and results.
Rendel provides real-world examples of credit union successes and shares the tools each credit union used to build its MLV model.

CUNA Pressing Economic Issues Series on 15th of each month

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MADISON, Wis. (12/21/11)--The CUNA Pressing Economic Issues Series, featuring Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economists Bill Hampel, Mike Schenk and Steve Rick, will release new presentations on the 15th of each month beginning  in January.

The series gives credit union professionals 30-minute economic updates and commentary every month. Subscribers to the CUNA Pressing Economic Issues Series can stay informed about pressing issues that impact credit unions and discover trends to watch as they prepare themselves for challenges ahead.

"Our executive and board audiences consistently rate presentations from Hampel, Schenk and Rick as engaging and highly informative," said Kevin Smith, CUNA director of volunteer education.

Hampel is the senior vice president of research and policy analysis and chief economist for CUNA. He also writes economic analysis columns that appear in several credit union publications. As an expert on the economy and credit union issues specifically, Hampel is routinely asked by national news outlets to share his economic expertise.

Schenk is vice president of economics and statistics for CUNA. He conducts economic and financial research, and provides support for CUNA's governmental affairs and public relations efforts. Schenk is an expert on the economy and credit union issues, with more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Rick, a senior economist for CUNA, conducts economic research, teaches at credit union schools and conferences, and writes articles for CUNA publications. He facilitates strategic planning sessions for credit union boards and has authored a textbook on asset-liability management. He also is a faculty member of the economics department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

ConsumerResidential Mortgage Lending School set by CUNA

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MADISON, Wis. (12/21/11)--Registration and school information are now available for the 2012 CUNA Consumer & Residential Mortgage Lending School, April 2-5 in Orlando, Fla.

Through breakout sessions and keynote presentations attendees will have the opportunity to strengthen their core-lending skills, get answers to their lending questions and explore areas outside of their expertise. The school features experts across all areas of lending and is designed for all credit union lenders who would like to be at the forefront of their field.

Session topics include:

  • Loaned Out: How the Best Credit Unions Loan Out Their Deposits;
  • You Don't Know What You Don't Know About Risk;
  • Economic Trends and Implications for Loan Growth; and
  • Growing Direct Consumer Loans in a Bad Economy.
"At their local credit unions, lending professionals often are required to wear many hats," said Courtney Cantwell, CUNA manager of instructional design.  "Lenders today can no longer afford to specialize in only one sector of the lending market, but must have a comprehensive knowledge of the entire lending world."

She noted the school can serve as a brief touch point every year to help lenders connect with experts and develop in their careers.

Jack Henry sets client conference

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MONETT, Mo. (12/20/11)--Jack Henry and Associates, a provider of computer systems and electronic payment solutions primarily for financial services organizations, will hold its annual client conference March 6-9 in Las Vegas.

Credit unions and banks using solutions from ProfitStars, iPay Technologies and JHA Payment processing Solutions can attend to PEC Education Conference and Technology Showcase. The conference offers informational sessions and product demonstrations.

eDoc launches new Facebook page

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (12/20/11)--eDOC Innovations, a provider of electronic signature and imaging solutions, has launched a new Facebook page.

eDOC Innovations worked with the marketing credit union service organization (CUSO) Chatter Yak to build a Facebook page that would bring eDOC credit union owners and peers up to date with recent events, promotions, and news at eDOC Innovations.

eDOC Innovations used Chatter Yak's landing page application to increase brand and product awareness.

"In the last year many credit unions have made the leap to social media as a means to establish stronger member relationships, additional communication channels and strengthen their respective brands," said Bryce Roth, chief marketer at Chatter Yak

"Having a strong social media strategy has never been more important and eDOC Innovations has demonstrated its understanding of this concept by continually utilizing the latest and greatest technologies available to credit unions and CUSOs alike," he said.

CUDL to represent 970 CUs at NADA convention

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ONTARIO, Calif. (12/19/11)--CUDL, an auto-lending credit union service organization and administrator of the nation's largest auto lending network for credit unions, will represent its credit union partners at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention for the ninth consecutive year.

The convention takes place Feb. 4-6 in Las Vegas.

During the convention, CUDL will promote its growing credit union network and the benefits of a strong credit union and dealer alliance.

CUDL also will showcase the suite of solutions and opportunities it offers dealers, including: accessing members who have been pre-approved for auto loans; to displaying inventory to CUDL credit unions and their members through the CUDL AutoSMART vehicle shopping website; and offering aftermarket products that help dealers increase profits.

These, and other services, can be accessed through CUDL's advanced Dealer Portal site, which it premiered at last year's NADA convention.

The largest event for automobile dealers in the U.S., the NADA convention draws attendance from about one-third of U.S. dealerships. NADA represents roughly 20,000 franchised new car and truck dealers holding nearly 43,000 separate domestic and international franchises.

Credit union auto-lending monthly market share has grown from 15.2% in March to 17.3% in October, with year-to-date market share of 16.9%. That equals credit unions' pre-downturn market share in 2007.

CUDL has grown its national auto lending network in 2011 to include more than 8,000 dealerships and 970 credit unions, serving 28 million members nationwide.

MoneyGram promotes fund transfers for holidays

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DALLAS (12/19/11)--MoneyGram has launched a $5.5 million global marketing campaign to remind consumers that they can send money around world during the holiday season.

MoneyGram is a CUNA Strategic Service provider.

The "Spreading Holiday Magic" campaign, which runs through the holidays, encourages consumers in more than 20 countries to "enjoy the magic of the holidays, send money around the world, and watch the happiness grow."

The campaign includes television, radio, out-of-home, online, print and direct mail ads, a public relations program and consumer promotions.

"Our customers around the world use MoneyGram throughout the year to send money to family and friends back home," said Juan Agualimpia, MoneyGram executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "While this is a valuable, practical way for them to support their families day in and day out, during the holidays our service takes on new meaning. It's really a way for our customers to connect and send gifts to their loved ones when they can't be there in person."

To highlight the ease of sending a monetary gift to someone on the other side of the world in as little as 10 minutes, MoneyGram an animated pop-up book. Commercials show people in colorful holiday scenes springing from one page to another, spreading joy as they send money and watching as friends and family happily receive the money miles away.

The speed in which MoneyGram is able to transfer funds from one person to another around the globe is depicted in the advertising with flowing red arrows, which also are part of MoneyGram's logo.

Celent names ProfitStars as RDC marketshare leader

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MONETT, Mo. (12/16/11)--Celent has named ProfitStars the market share leader in the remote deposit capture (RDC) and branch capture solutions market.

Individual annual reports published by Celent provide reviews of ProfitStars' RDC and branch capture market share, and recognize the company's solutions as continued market share leaders since 2008.

The "State of Remote Deposit Capture 2011: Signs of a Maturing Market" report, published Nov. 7, identified ProfitStars as the market share leader in RDC based on financial institution implementations and licensed end-users.

The "Imaging in the Retail Channel 2011: Seventh Inning Stretch," report published Nov. 30, named ProfitStars as the branch capture market share leader in terms of end users supported (number of seat licenses sold). The company also ranked among the top three providers of branch capture solutions based on the number of financial institution implementations.

CUTEK adds Reg Z tracking to fee management console

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MURRIETA, Calif. (12/16/11)--Financial technology services provider and consultant CUTEK Inc. has added Regulation Z requirements to its Fee Management Console product.

Fee Management Console already handles reversals of loan fees, including required adjustments to properly track fees covered by Regulation Z. This reversal handling properly tracks the reversal of loan fees covered by Regulation Z that were originally posted to share accounts, rather than directly to the affected loan.

Mutual Savings CU, with $166 million assets, Birmingham, Ala., is the first to use the Regulation Z requirements within Fee Manager.

Connecticut league Sprint tout success

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MERIDEN, Conn. (12/16/11)--Forty credit unions in Connecticut received marketing incentive checks for participating in the national 2011 Sprint Discount Program, said the Credit Union League of Connecticut.

Among those attending a gathering of credit unions that offer Sprint in Connecticut are, from left, Doreen Roy, vice president, HR & Public Relations, Northwest Hills CU, Torrington, Conn.; Nick Moalli, Credit Union League of Connecticut assistant vice president  Credit Union Services; and Paul Rougeot, president/CEO of Northwest Hills CU. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
Seventeen individuals attended a gathering at the league's office Tuesday to celebrate sharing in the excess of $78,000. During the 2010-2011 program year, Sprint reported that credit union members nationally saved more than $158 million in cell phone equipment and services.

The National Sprint discount program from Invest In America saves credit union members on wireless services through lower monthly bills, waived fees, and discounts. As part of the partnership with Sprint, credit unions receive noninterest income to support their marketing expenses. The Connecticut league has a marketing agreement with CU Solutions Group, based in Michigan, to offer the program in its state.

"The Sprint program keeps growing every year," said Nick Moalli, assistant vice president, credit union services, who administers the program at the league. "When credit unions realize they can help their members by providing real savings on a practical service while gaining a little advantage of their own, they'll see that programs like this one easily become an integral part of providing total financial services that members benefit from far into the future."

CSS provider Agility hits 10000 member locations

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CHARLOTTE, N.C., and MADISON, Wis. (12/15/11)--Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider and supplier of disaster recovery solutions to businesses in North America, has signed its 10,000th member location. The company also announced its 600th member credit union.

Agility helps businesses create continuity plans and physically rescues businesses during disasters with four elements of recovery: power, office space, technology and connectivity. It has a 100% success rate throughout its 23-year history, including dozens of credit unions nationwide, Agility said.

In 2005, Agility launched its ReadySuite solution that provides whatever businesses need to recover from any type of disaster. "When we developed ReadySuite, we knew that the packaged recovery solution, consulting services, and testing options would put Agility in a different league within the industry," said Agility CEO Bob Boyd.

For credit unions, having a continuity plan and disaster-recovery strategy is a compliance requirement. Agility protects more than $150 billion in total credit union assets--about 15% of the total assets held by credit unions nationwide.

Black Book CUNA expand into data services for CUs

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. and MADISON, Wis. (12/15/11)--Black Book and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) have enhanced their 12-year partnership to include integrated data products for credit unions at a discounted price.

CUNA will expand its relationship with Black Book to include access to their vehicle valuation data services, said Mark Condon, CUNA senior vice president of business and consumer publishing.

Credit union users will have online access to consumer portals, custom analysis and portfolio "refreshes" used throughout the industry to help with member education and retention strategies, loss forecasting, understanding collateral risk and loan originations.

"We have enjoyed a long standing relationship with CUNA and its members, and currently do business with more than 1,200 member credit unions in 48 of the 50 states,"  Tom Cross, Black Book president. "This is a natural expansion of that relationship."

Best known in the automotive industry for providing vehicle-pricing information, Black Book data is published daily by National Auto Research, a division of Hearst Business Media, and is available to industry qualified users through subscriptions to its website. Use the link.

347 earn CUNA CU Fin. Counselor certification in 2011

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MADISON, Wis. (12/14/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced that 347 credit union financial counselors, from 38 states and 175 credit unions, earned their CUNA Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) Certification in 2011.

The certificate was created by CUNA to help credit union financial counselors stay up-to-date with the latest counseling techniques and ensure credit union members receive informed and relevant financial advice.

The certificate will be offered in 2012 and can be earned after successfully completing exams associated with one of two tracks:

  • Attend the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools June 11-14 in Austin, Texas, and achieve certification onsite by successfully completing both Part 1 and Part 2 of the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools and pass each qualifying exam.
  • Receive certification through the Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP), a self-study financial counseling certification program. Modeled after the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools, FiCEP includes two parts of four learning modules each. CCUFC certification is received upon completion of the proctored exams for both parts (eight total modules).

CUAnswers deploys text banking more

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (12/13/11)--CU*Answers, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based credit union service organization, has released mobile text bank banking and other updates for credit unions using its CU*Base processing system.

CU*Answers clients can now select from two mobile products: mobile web Banking, which is an automatic redirect from CU*Answer's It's Me 247 Online Banking system and provided free of charge to every CU*BASE client, and its mobile text banking offering. 

With the text banking product, members may text-message requests and receive text-message replies on available balances on accounts at any time.                                                                                             

Members may select to have e-alerts--such as for available funds dropping below a desired level--sent to their mobile device as a text message. 

The text-banking tool will be provided free until March 1. At that time, credit unions will be charged 3.25 cents for each out-going text message. Incoming texts, such as an incoming member balance request, will be free.

CU*Answers also updated the appearance of the It's Me 247 Mobile Web Banking product. The new interface is in preparation for CU*Answers' upcoming offer of bill pay for Mobile Web, the company said.

Also, the company's latest upgrade to its CU*BASE processing system means credit unions can view Outstanding Loan Recap, including a new, graphical Loan Concentration Analysis Dashboard tool. 

The tool provides a single-view of all lending relationships with any member. Data provided include details such as loan balances contingent liability, credit score, collateral information and service income.

Filene Think.DO. set for Wednesday

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MADISON, Wis. (12/12/11)--Think.DO, the Filene Research Institute's annual exploration of issues and innovations for the year ahead, will be held at 11:30 a.m. CT on Wednesday.

There are two ways to attend Think.DO.:

  • In person: The event will take place at Filene headquarters at 5810 Mineral Point Rd., Madison, Wis. Use the link to register.
  • Remotely: the event can be accessed live via Filene's "Lunch with Ed" Ustream page. Registration is not required.  Users are advised to verify they can access Ustream before the event. Use the link.
Among the Filene speakers and sessions at Think.Do. are:

  • Mark Meyer, CEO, "The place of Filene in the credit union ecosystem";
  • George Hofheimer, chief research officer, "Why credit unions are measuring the wrong things";
  • Matt Davis, director of innovation, "Lift: Piloting a loan product banks won't touch";
  • Ben Rogers, director of research, "Who grew lending during the great recession and why";
  • Brent Dixon, young adult advisor, "Potential energy, kinetic energy, and the future of credit unions"; and
  • Denise Gabel, chief innovation officer, "Finovate: Innovation lessons from outside the system."

Auto Financial Group positions residual-based financing for CUs

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HOUSTON (12/9/11)--Auto Financial Group's DrivingSense balloon-loan program is gaining momentum, the company said.

"At a time when credit unions are looking for opportunities to book more loans and mitigate risk, AFG's DrivingSense program is well-positioned to appeal to credit union members looking for lower payments and flexibility," said Richard Epley, Auto Financial Group president.

"DrivingSense has always protected credit unions from residual-value risks," said Epley, Auto Financial Group president. "For the last 12 years, AFG has guaranteed predetermined residual values of the vehicles. But today, a number of industry and broader economic factors have combined to increase used-car values, allowing AFG to offer broader, more comprehensive coverage which further mitigates risk to all stakeholders."

Key features of the AFG Driving Sense balloon loan program include:

  • Residual value insurance;
  • Compatibility with existing indirect programs;
  • Automated quoting system;
  • Automated end-of-term process;
  • Higher yielding loans; and
  • Positioning of financial institutions to recapture vehicle financing lost to competitive low payment financing options.
New signings and renewals include:

  • Anheuser-Busch Employees FCU, St. Louis;
  • Congressional FCU, Oakton, Va.;
  • Corning (N.Y.) CU;
  • Dupaco CU, Dubuque, Iowa;
  • Frankenmuth (Mich.) CU,
  • GPO FCU, Utica, N.Y.
  • SeaComm FCU, Massena, N.Y.; and
  • Security CU, Flint, Mich.
Together these credit unions manage more than $4.5 billion in assets and serve more than 400,000 members.

CU Mobile Apps will be available on Kindle Fire

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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (12/9/11)--CU Mobile Apps, the mobile banking application offered by insurance and financial solutions provider Member Service Solutions LLC, will soon be available for Amazon's new Kindle Fire electronic tablet.

"The Kindle Fire is certainly one of the best implementations of Android on a tablet that we have seen to date, and as a mobile application development company, we have seen a great many different mobile devices," said Crash Bang Studios LLC, developer of the Kindle Fire-supporting app Member Service Solutions will offer.  

Crash Bang Studios said it would make the app available to members by the end of the first quarter of 2012, along with continued availability of the native iPad and Android Tablet versions.

The CU Mobile Apps product is currently functional on iPhone, iTouch and iPad,  and on Android devices.

The product was designed to accept and integrate newer technologies as they become available, said Rick Hargis, owner/partner of Member Service Solutions. "We are now adding Kindle Fire to the list, and making good on our early promise to deliver new technologies at no additional subscription charge—and with no additional costly and inconvenient restructuring or redesign delays for our existing customers."

Because the lightweight and roughly pocket-sized Kindle Fire is so portable, Member Services Solutions hopes a significant number of the five million new Kindle Fires purchasers will rely on it--and its credit union app--for their mobile banking needs.

"More and more credit unions are thus recognizing the value of sending messages as well as using the app as a banking tool," said Tom Gray, a Member Service Solutions partner. "Our cutting-edge app enables credit unions to send push messages and notifications to their members, an exclusive capability that CU Mobile Apps clients are increasingly taking advantage of--at the rate of more than 40,000 push notification messages sent through the system over the last six months."

CU Mobile Apps reports that 11,000 of those 40,000 messages were sent during November, according to Gray. "As more subscriber credit unions realize the benefits of push notifications, we expect the recent explosive increase in usage of this feature to continue--especially as more of the Kindle Fire devices reach the hands of credit union members."

MoneyDesktop teams with ShareOne on PFM service

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PROVO, Utah (12/8/11)--MoneyDesktop will integrate its personal financial management (PFM) solution into Share One's online banking platform under a partnership between the two technology providers.

MoneyDesktop was awarded "Best of Show" by the CUNA Technology Council in September.

"Our client credit unions want to help their members gain control over their finances," said Daryl Tanner, Share One president/CEO. "We chose MoneyDesktop as our partner because we needed a reliable and robust solution, with a superior yet simple user experience. It was also paramount that our PFM partner deliver a unique cross-marketing platform that enables our clients to control the messaging and serve up their own relevant offers."

Cachet Financial launches website for RDC

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MINNEAPOLIS (12/811)--Cachet Financial Solutions, a provider of remote deposit capture (RDC) products, has redesigned its website to accommodate a growing number of partners searching for remote deposit and check-cashing solutions.

The previous site has been replaced with a portal that provides a more thorough explanation about how Cachet Financial helps financial organizations streamline remote deposit and check-cashing solutions for their members/customers.

Cachet has recently taken a more active role in the growing market for mobile check cashing and reloadable prepaid cards, which traditionally serve lower- to-mid income consumers and a large portion of the unbanked, underbanked and underserved population. An increase in product offerings necessitated the website upgrade, Cachet said.

Charitable Lead Trust webinar set for Dec. 19

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MADISON, Wis. (12/7/11)--Members Trust Co. is offering a free webinar "National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Charitable Lead Trust--A Charitable Investment to Match Your Charitable Intent," at 3:30 p.m. CT  Dec. 19.

Webinar participants can learn about NCUF's new Charitable Lead Trust Community Investment Fund (CIF) option from Tom Walker, president/CEO, and Jason Ritzenthaler, CFA, CTFA, vice president, trust and investments, of Members Trust Co.

With the new Charitable Lead Trust option, NCUF will receive annual payments calculated as a percentage of the market value of the assets held in the trust for three- to five years.

Unless donor credit union elects to renew the trust at the end of this payout period, the remaining assets in the trust will be returned to the credit union.

Members Trust Co. FSB is a special purpose savings bank chartered by the Office of Thrift Supervision and owned and managed by credit unions. The company was initially formed in 1987 by Suncoast Schools FCU and has more than $900 million in assets under management.

Mortgagebot CUMembers Mortgage offer loan app websites

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MEQUON, Wis. (12/7/11)--CU Members Mortgage has launched PowerSite, a point-of-sale solution that allows credit unions to present customized mortgage applications that match the look and feel of the institution's website.

Rolled out in October, Powersite, available through online lending technology provider Mortgagebot, has a 65% conversion among credit unions, according to CU Members Mortgage.

Powersite's Web-based interface  allows credit unions to maintain control over their websites with minimal administration and production time, said CU Members Mortgage.

Round-the-clock accessibility to their credit union's website allows them to complete the application at their convenience, which supports higher loan volume through the online channel. The ability to track online loan applications through PowerSite results provides credit unions with the ability to follow up on dropped applications, the company added.

Dallas-based CU Members Mortgage provides mortgage services to more than 1,000 credit unions, credit union service organizations and leagues nationwide.

Prepaid program benefits practices touted in paper

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (12/6/11)--Prepaid payroll programs offer growth opportunities for credit unions, according to a PSCU Financial Services white paper.

The white paper outlines the prepaid payroll market for consumer and employer programs.

"Prepaid payroll cards offer the highest transaction averages and longest life span of any prepaid debit card, said Ron Silvia, PSCU Financial Services vice president of debit, ATM and prepaid products. "This makes them extremely profitable for credit unions. A convenient, secure prepaid card also offers significant benefits to the underserved market by eliminating the need to pay high fees for check cashing services and the dangers of carrying cash."

All prepaid payroll programs offer cardholders the ability to have their paychecks directly deposited onto a reloadable card, which can be used at merchant locations and ATMs. These cards also offer the feature functionality of a debit card and the ability to continue using the card if the consumer leaves that employer.    

"Offering a prepaid payroll product gives the credit union the ability to attract unbanked or underbanked members or relatives of members who wouldn't normally qualify for regular payment products such as credit or debit cards," the white paper explained. "The limitations around conventional checking and savings accounts steer these members to a prepaid debit card, since it offers the same benefits as debit cards. Credit unions that supply their business segments with an employer prepaid payroll card program increase loyalty by providing a value-added service."

PSCU Financial Services' white paper outlines the tactics required to establish a successful payroll program aimed at either employers or consumers. The paper offers best practices that include regulations, anticipated operating margins, suggested program features and recommended marketing techniques. 

A credit union service organization, PSCU Financial Services offers its members processing options, such as full service to in-house pass-through processing for credit, debit and ATM transactions.

Switch to build Las Vegas-North campus

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LAS VEGAS (12/6/11)--Switch, a builder and operator of data center technology ecosystems, will begin construction of a Las Vegas-North Campus.

Switch is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.  

The new location will have more than 300,000 square feet of data center space located roughly 15 miles north of the Las Vegas Digital Exchange Campus.

The expansion is driven by the demand for active-active environments that require redundant data centers to be roughly 15 miles apart.

"Our customers are continuing to evolve and adopt the latest enterprise configurations," said Missy Young, Switch executive vice president of colocation. "The addition of Switch Las Vegas-North will provide our customers with three separate data center ecosystems that satisfy the latency ranges for active-active solutions."

MasterCard mFoundry team up on mobile payment options

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PURCHASE, N.Y., and SAN FRANCISCO (12/5/11)--MasterCard and mFoundry have partnered to combine MasterCard's Tap & Go PayPass technology with mFoundry's mobile financial services platform to make mobile contactless payments accessible to more consumers.

The partnership includes an investment by MasterCard in mFoundry.

Mobile PayPass, which uses near field communication (NFC) technology, allows consumers to make payments by tapping their NFC phone on any PayPass-enabled terminal at a merchant check-out.

mFoundry provides mobile banking solutions for more than 560 banks and credit unions.

MasterCard and mFoundry also will collaborate to provide mobile phone operators an application that supports Mobile PayPass, which will allow them to offer mobile contactless payments to their customers.

ProfitStars service helps FIs support energy markets

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MONETT, MO. (12/5/11)--Financial institutions using the BusinessManager accounts receivable financing solution from ProfitStars are increasing their return on assets (ROA) while meeting the business lending needs of their members/customers in the oil and gas market, said ProfitStars.

BusinessManager has assisted financial institutions in funding more than $500 million in accounts receivable for the energy "play" space since 2009.  

ROA, a key indicator of a company's profitability, averages 0.88% among domestic financial institutions, said the company. ProfitStars' clients average 10% ROA on business accounts that use BusinessManager and 13% for accounts in energy play markets.

Many financial institutions serving the energy play market--which includes areas in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southwest experiencing significant oil and gas industry growth--need alternative financing options to offer quick cash flow to business customers, said ProfitStars.

BusinessManager is used by credit unions and banks to accomplish two primary goals: assist creditworthy business members/customers with management and funding of accounts receivable; and earn recurring income.

"Financial institutions in energy play areas have the potential to tap into a significant source of recurring fee income if they are prepared to meet the unique lending needs of these business customers," said David Foss, ProfitStars president. "And providing these business [members and] customers with the cash flow they need to grow their businesses creates the ongoing need for manpower, materials, and services and community-wide growth opportunities. BusinessManager bridges the gap between outstanding accounts receivables and cash flow, and empowers financial institutions with a distinct and lucrative lending solution."

ProfitStars maintains a Commercial Lending Online Knowledge Center to educate financial institutions on moving beyond traditional lending strategies, whether they are diversifying their portfolio or expanding their commercial business base by bringing in new deposits, growing earnings and enhancing asset quality.

Verafin expands operations

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ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland (12/2/11)--Verafin Inc., a provider of compliance, anti-money laundering (AML) and fraud-detection software, will open a new corporate office in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday.

Verfin is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The role of the Birmingham office will be to better serve customers in the South, Midwest and Western states with training, technical support, sales and services, Verafin said.

Verafin's FRAML solution uses artificial intelligence and behavior pattern-based recognition to detect suspicious activity. Bringing fraud detection and AML (FRAML) processes together alerts compliance officers of suspicious behavior and anomalies while improving investigations and satisfying compliance with Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering regulations, the company said.

The company announced a formal partnership with Open Solutions Inc. to bring its FRAML solution to customers of Open Solutions' on-demand and on-premise core banking systems.

CUAnswers awards 10000 in grants

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (12/2/11)--CU*Answers, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based credit union service organization, distributed $10,000 to five credit unions as part of its first Annual Investment Grant Program.

Leading up to the event, participating credit unions provided Randy Karnes, CEO ofCU*Answers, and the CU*Answers board of directors with a synopsis of an innovative idea for which they lacked proper funding.

Of the entries, five finalists were selected to present their investment opportunity to their peers at the 2011 CEO Roundtable Event, hosted by CU*Answers.

After each credit union presented its investment opportunity to their fellow CEOs, a selection committee of credit union CEOs gathered to distribute $10,000 in grant funds.

The credit unions rewarded included:

  • AAC CU, Grand Rapids, Mich.;
  • Community CU, La Crosse, Wis.;
  • GR Family CU, Grand Rapids, Mich.;
  • Heartland CU, Madison, Wis.; and
  • Frankenmuth CU, Frankenmuth, Mich.
CU*Answers also announced that it had added eight credit union investors to reach 101 credit union owners.

CU*Answers provides services for credit unions including its flagship CU*BASE processing system and Internet development services, featuring online and mobile banking, Web development, network design and security, and image check processing.