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CU System briefs (07/12/2012)

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  • PORTLAND, Maine (7/13/12)--The Portland, Maine branch of Falmouth, Maine-based Cumberland County FCU was closed Wednesday after a car hit the building and smashed a window at the credit union, according to the Bangor Daily News (July 11). The incident occurred at about 9:30 a.m. when Stephen Wich, 28, of Portland pulled into the handicapped space at the credit union. Wich, who has a prosthetic leg, told police he struggled with the car's brake pedal as he pulled into the spot. No one was hurt …
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/13/12)--A man wanted in connection with a robbery Tuesday afternoon of Harrisburg, Pa.-based  Belco Community CU, surrendered to police at 4:45 p.m. after a standoff at his home that lasted more than two hours (WHTM.com and WHPTV.com  July 11). The robbery occurred at 1 p.m., according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway July 12). Police said the robber did not use a weapon while at the credit union and fled with an undisclosed amount of money. The arrested man, who had not been formally identified by police, was tracked to the home after police received a description of the getaway vehicle. "Thankfully the credit union staff is safe and they did a great job in responding to the robbery in the right way," Charles DelMarcelle, executive vice president at Belco Community, told PCUA. He noted the credit union is making sure its employees "are taken care of in the aftermath of what is always a very traumatic experience."  …
  • TULSA, Okla. (7/13/12)--Tulsa-based Oklahoma Central CU opened its new headquarters and branch Tuesday at the former site of the Camelot Hotel, which was demolished nearly five years ago. The eight-story hotel was considered Tulsa's most distinctive hotel for decades, but it fell into disrepair and was demolished in September 2007. Quik Trip Corp. bought the site in June 2007 and intends to build a store in April. It sold four acres to Oklahoma Central, which built a 22,000-square-foot building to house financial services and its administrative and executive offices. The $446 million assets credit union's old headquarters will become its flagship branch (Tulsa World July 11) …
  • GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (7/13/12)--The Ohio Catholic FCU, a $156 million asset credit union based in Garfield Heights, Ohio, has named Todd Turner as its new CEO. The appointment was effective July 1. Tuner has been with the credit union since 2010. He served as chief lending officer and was promoted to chief retail officer (CRO) in 2011. He has been serving as interim CEO while continuing his work as CRO. His background includes serving as chief operating officer at Atlantic Financial Services in Massillon and as vice president, retail lending for Unizan Bank (now part of Huntington Bank) in Canton …
  • Gnadenhutten, Ohio (7/13/12)--Michael D. Hamilton, former president of the board at Tuscarawas School CU in Dover, Ohio, died Sunday at his home after a period of declining health. He was 75. Hamilton served as president of the credit union for more than 20 years. He was a teacher for 34 years and active in several community organizations. He is survived by his wife, Ingeborg; a brother, Gregory; five nieces, four great-nieces and two great-nephews (The Times Reporter July 10) …

Security company settles patent suit with six FIs

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PLANO, Texas (7/13/12)--A Plano, Texas-based security company specializing in Internet security technology has settled its patent infringement lawsuit with six financial institutions, including a credit union. 

Secure Axcess LLC said it has licensed its identity and access management (IAM) technology to the six institutions that settled. Its technology relates to the use of a security image for authentication, which is widely used by the banking industry to protect online members and customers from "phishing" and other forms of fraud, said the company's press release.

The technology was originally developed by engineers working at American Express and is covered by U.S. Patent No. 7,631,191, the company said.

Although six institutions settled with the company, 14 other financial institutions--including Bank of America, BBVA Compass, and ING Bank--remain as active defendants in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

The settlement announcement came just as another patent infringement suit was filed in a Texas district court by EMG Technology against Google over the mobile version of Google's Chrome browser. EMG claims Google's browser violates EMG Technology's "simplified navigation system" for smartphones and tablets  by "displaying mobile webpages on smartphones and tablets" (PC Magazine July 12). EMG says its patent, issued Oct. 21, 2008, uses unique inputs to manipulate a touch screen for zooming and scrolling.

EMG has filed patent infringement suits in the past. It sued Apple in November 2008, saying Apple's iPhone infringed on its patent for navigating the Web on cell phones. And it sued Microsoft in August 2009 over two patents one for navigating Internet control on a TV and the other for the method of manipulating a region on a wireless device screen for viewing, zooming and scrolling Internet content, said PC Magazine.

The EMG case is the latest in a series of "smartphone patent wars." Last month a U.S. District Judge in Chicago ruled Apple could not pursue an injunction against Google's Motorola Mobility unit as part of the "smartphone patent wars." (tech12.incom June 25).

Credit unions and credit union service organizations, and service providers, in their quest for advanced technologies to serve their members more conveniently, have bumped up against patent issues before. Along with the legitimate patent lawsuits, they've also run up against lawsuits by some patent owners, which, according to Bloomberg.com (June 25), use "their rights to collect license fees instead of producing products."

Catalyst Corporate FCU, for example, filed a preemptory lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas in April seeking a judgment that it had not infringed on any processing patents after it received a letter and "proposal to negotiate patent license" in March from IP Navigation Group (IPNav), an intellectual property advisory firm that had experience with monetizing patents (News Now April 23).

The Huffington Post Thursday reported on the parade of patent lawsuits.  "It used to be companies might threaten patent lawsuits to collect licensing fees--especially in the tech space where interoperability makes companies more dependent on each other," said the Internet newspaper. "But now, companies seem increasingly interested in licensing to third parties (patent trolls) to go after those who are competing against them. For the tech industry, the possibility of tens of thousands of patents in a single product such as a smartphone is a huge burden, risk, and ultimately a tax on innovators."

Researchers at the Boston University School of Law said in a study released last month that business costs have risen more than fourfold since 2005 over royalty demands filed by patent owners seeking quick profits. The BGOV Barometer indicates companies face $29 billion in expenses from 5,874 infringement claims filed in 2011 by "non-practicing entities, patent owners using their rights to collect license fees instead of producing products."  That is up from 1,401 claims and $6.6 billion in costs in 2005, the study said (Bloomberg.com June 25).

Companies with $1 billion or less in annual revenue were named in 59% of the claims filed in 2011. Large companies end up paying more in settlement and legal costs, but smaller companies' expenses in these cases eat up a larger portion of their revenue, the study said.

San Francisco-based RPX, which developed a lawsuit database, surveyed technology companies it works with and learned it costs on average $1.75 million for a small or medium-sized company to cover legal and settlement costs.  It costs $8.79 million for companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue .

Mazuma CU offers photo-personalized cards

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KANSAS CITY (7/13/12)--Mazuma CU, a $452.3 million asset credit union based in Kansas City, Mo., is offering photo personalization to members with its Mazuma Visa credit and debit cards.

Using a photo of their choosing, members can personalize their cards through Mazuma online banking.

After logging in to Mazuma online banking, members follow instructions provided on the site. After the photo is approved, the personalized Visa card is mailed to the member within a few weeks.

Launched this May, Mazuma is promoting the service to members with a "Personalize Your Plastic" campaign.

"Offering the personalized card option is a fun service for our members, but also helps to increase usage of Mazuma credit and debit cards, rather than members using competitive cards," said Ginny Leritz, Mazuma director of project optimization. "It's no secret that a personalized card, with your child's picture on it for example, will be pulled out of a purse or wallet first. Mazuma's goal is to bring our cards to top-of-wallet use. 

"This should be a breeze for anyone who has ever uploaded a picture from their computer," said Rob Coacher, Mazuma call center manager. "We don't anticipate any learning curve for members."

Gov. signs Calif. homeowner bill of rights

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LOS ANGELES (7/13/12)--California Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday signed the "Homeowner Bill of Rights" into law in Los Angeles. The bill will go into effect Jan. 1. Credit unions will be impacted by the legislation, which is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Proponents say it will protect homeowners who are involved in loan modification and foreclosure processes (Pasadena Star-News July 12). The major provisions of the bill seek to alleviate common problems people encounter when trying to retain their homes.

The bill prohibits "dual tracking" foreclosures, in which one bank department says it will help a struggling homeowner while another proceeds with the foreclosure process. It also requires that all loan documents must be verified, and asks lenders to provide a single point of contact for borrowers who want to discuss their loans and to keep them informed, the newspaper said.

"Credit unions understand that the intention of mortgage reform legislation is to help distressed borrowers who were negatively impacted by a devastating recession," the California Credit Union League said in a statement sent to News Now last week (July 6). "We share the same concern, but we also believe these reforms were proposed to address the practices of other lenders.

"We maintain strict underwriting standards, and are wary of additional burdens that would impede our ability to help struggling Californians emerge from a lingering economic downturn," the league added. "Our primary focus is to continue working with members to keep them in their homes."

CUADs awareness campaign hits Rapid City

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BISMARCK, N.D. (7/13/12)--This week, the CU on the Road tour, part of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas' (CUAD) "We've Been Waiting for You" campaign, made three stops in the Rapid City, S.D., area.

The tour--a grass-roots effort during which CUAD staff travel throughout the Dakotas to meet with the public and talk about the benefits of credit unions--stopped in Sturgis and Deadwood on Tuesday and Rapid City on Wednesday.  Live radio remotes were broadcast throughout each two-hour event and prizes were given away.

"We've Been Waiting For You" is a campaign to create awareness about the benefits of credit unions across North and South Dakota (News Now April 5).

"This week, we spoke to over 300 people at the three locations, some credit union members already--but many more potential credit union members," said Robbie Thompson, CUAD president/CEO. "We are getting the message out there--and it is spreading."

Besides the three scheduled events, the CU on the Road Vehicle made stops at these South Dakota credit unions:

  • Dakota Territory FCU, Deadwood;
  • Med5 FCU, Rapid City;
  • Dacotah FCU, Rapid City;
  • Highmark FCU, Rapid City;
  • Rushmore Electric FCU, Rapid City;
  • Sentinel FCU, Ellsworth AFB;
  • Black Hills FCU, Rapid City;
  • Northern Hills FCU, Sturgis;
  • Simply Service FCU, Belle Fourche;
  • Minuteman Community FCU, Rapid City; and
  • Dakota Star FCU, Rapid City.
The next leg of the tour starts today and goes through Sunday. The CU on the Road Vehicle and CUAD staff will be at the Red River Valley Fair in Fargo, N.D., to promote the advantages of credit unions at an outdoor booth and will also give away prizes, including $100 for a credit union testimonial.

Irish league pushes money lender interest-rate cap

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DUBLIN (7/13/12)--The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) is urging Ireland's government to institute an interest-rate cap for payday lenders there.

The majority of "moneylenders," as they are known in Ireland, charge interest rates in excess of a 100% annual percentage rates (APR), with some charging rates as high as 190% APR, according to Western People (July 4).

A survey conducted by the league found that 40% of Irish consumers surveyed have borrowed to pay their household bills in the past 12 months. Of this group, the largest portion rely on financial help from family and friends, 30% rely on a credit union, 10% use a bank and 10% turn to moneylenders.

"With the level of personal indebtedness and financial exclusion in Ireland, there is a real danger of compounding the problem by allowing legal moneylenders to charge excessive rates," said said Kieron Brennan, ILCU CEO.

CU in Texas registers 20000th mobile banker

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/13/12)--University FCU, Austin, Texas, has registered its 20,000th member for mobile banking, achieving 25% adoption in the first nine months, according to mFoundry, a mobile banking and payments provider.

University FCU also is processing more than $2 million mobile deposits per month, mFoundry said.

"Any bank or credit union can achieve similar or greater adoption results for mobile banking," said Bryan Mishkin, University FCU eServices senior manager. "If a financial institution has a great mobile solution people want to use, offers intuitive mobile enrollment, uses cross-channel marketing dedicated to mobile conversion, and operates mobile as an independent channel, they too will exceed 20% adoption in the first 12 months."

The credit union has seen adoption of mobile deposit across all demographics, Mishkin said. "Mobile deposit has also been a huge boost for mobile banking adoption--many of our members have told me they enrolled in mobile banking for that feature alone and our staff has shared numerous stories of how mobile deposit has made members' lives easier," he added. "There is no question that mobile banking is one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal for growing and maintaining our membership long-term."

Free resource guide available for NCUF fin ed report

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MADISON, Wis. (7/13/12)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) through its REAL Solutions program has issued a resource guide for its free online report entitled "Credit Unions: Focused on Financial Capability Across the Nation," which was released earlier this year.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view
The report and guide are the result of a nearly yearlong data collection effort by NCUF and state credit union leagues to illustrate how the credit union movement is making a difference through financial education and counseling.

The new guide is designed to help credit unions and others access resources, information and curricula already created to help them offer even more financial literacy programs.

"The report was the 'what' and the new resource guide is the 'how' and 'where' for credit unions," said Lois Kitsch, NCUF National REAL Solutions program director. "When using this guide, think of how your credit union can move members to the next level. Financial education is the credit union output, but consumer behavior change that leads to financial security is the desired result."

To download the guide and the full report at no-cost, use the REAL Solutions link.  All files are in .PDF format.

The report included intervention techniques used by credit unions to provide financial counseling/education to their members. Its intent was to quantify the depth and breadth of opportunities credit unions offer members/consumers to help them gain financial decision-making skills.

NCUF has several ongoing projects to assist credit unions with the development, measurement and implementation of educational programs. NCUF and REAL Solutions plan to continue to gather and publish data about credit unions' financial education provisions to demonstrate the positive impact credit unions have on members, consumers and their communities.

For questions on the resource guide or the report itself, contact Lois Kitsch at lkitsch@ncuf.coop  or 407-616-2409.

2300 miles later co-op tour ends

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PORTLAND, Maine (7/13/12)--Nearly a thousand people gathered at Payson Park in Portland, Maine on Saturday--the United Nations' International Day of Cooperatives--to welcome bikers who participated in the Cabot Creamery Cooperative's 2012 Community Tour.

Click to view larger image 2012 Cabot Community Tour Bike Riders Bob Spiegelman, left, and Myron and Kathy Skott, right, and Roberta MacDonald, Cabot Creamery Cooperative senior vice president of marketing (sunglasses), hoist a giant globe above their heads in celebration of the conclusion of the 2012 Cabot Community Tour. MacDonald joined the riders during the final 300 miles of their 2,300-mile journey that began May 12 in Miami, and ended on July 7 in Portland, Maine. (Photo provided by PRNewsFoto/Cabot Creamery Cooperative)
The 2012 Community Tour, a 2,300-mile bicycle ride along the East Coast Greenway sponsored by Cabot Creamery, was created to spotlight the power of cooperatives--including credit unions--during the International Year of Cooperatives, as well as to celebrate those who give their hearts, time and skills to strengthen communities. The tour started in Miami on May 12.

The Portland event marked the culmination of more than eight weeks of Community Tour celebrations all along the east coast that featured eight major events in cities including: Miami; Charleston, S.C.; Durham, N.C.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Wilmington, Del.; New York City; Providence, R.I.; and Portland and dozens of smaller stops along the route.

Cabot Creamery is a farm family-owned cooperative located in Vermont producing all natural, award-winning cheeses and a sponsor of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Home & Family Finance Radio.

The Community Tour's focus on community, volunteers and cooperatives was deemed a great success by Cabot, its sponsors, partners, elected officials, and the thousands of people who attended the events.

"All along the way, we spread the good word about cooperatives, celebrated communities, and honored volunteers for the work they do to make this a better world," said Roberta MacDonald, Cabot's senior vice president of marketing.

MacDonald thanked the tour's major sponsors, including CUNA, East Coast Greenway Alliance, AARP Create The Good, HandsOn Network, Marriott, National Life Group and other non-profit, volunteer and civic organizations. 

The "Celebrate Portland" event on Saturday focused on engaging families. The event featured booths, activities and organizations for kids and adults. Among the participating organizations was the Maine Credit Union League. 

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) issued a Congressional Record statement that will be read on the floor of Congress acknowledging Cabot and the Community Tour, and recognized Cabot for its leadership role in the world of cooperatives and as an integral part of the state's dairy industry.

Three bike riders, Cathy and Myron Skott, and Bob Spiegelman, rode the entire distance of the 2,300-mile Tour.

Wisconsin CUs use variety in urging MBL-cap lift

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (7/12/12)--Wisconsin's credit unions have done an outstanding job using many ways to share stories about the need for small business access to credit with the state's lawmakers, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League Thursday.

The credit unions are working to urge Congress to pass the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill, which would increase credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from the current 12.25% cap.

The league said the measure would extend $453 million of new credit to Wisconsin businesses and in turn help create 4,920 new jobs in the first year--at no cost to taxpayers (The League July 12).

Wisconsin credit unions' efforts have included:

  • Letters. Central City CU, based in Marshfield, said 392 of its members signed letters to their congressmen supporting lifting the cap. Forward Financial CU in Niagara reported it achieved 100% participation from its staff and board in singing letters to senators. Lakeview CU in Neenah reported that members and local business owners sent more than 350 letters to Congress. Oakdale (Wis.) CU sent more than 20 letters.
  • E-mails. Central City CU generated 250 e-mails using the league's Grassroots Action Center, said the league.
  • Meetings. Central City CU CEO/President Pat Wesenberg and Vice President of Commercial Lending Jeff Kolstad met with and hand-delivered letters to staff of the state's U.S. senators.  Oakdale CU President Colleen Woggon met with one senator's assistant in La Crosse to provide an update on the bill, share stories and drop off letters supporting the bill.
  • Videos. Shoreline CU in Two Rivers shared videos from an industrial cutting and fabricating company, bridal shop and tavern in which members tell their small business' story. (Use the resource links to view each video). Also, Lakeview CU produced short, customized video messages for each U.S. senator  from a contractor who has a Lakeview CU small-business loan.
  • Other creative efforts. Premier Financial CU, New Holstein, took a sunglass-laden picture inspired by Tom Cruise's movie, "Risky Business," with the caption, "No Risky Business With Credit Unions."  Lakeview CU said it will soon send giant greeting cards to the state's two U.S. senators, asking for a yes vote on S. 2231.
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions throughout the nation have been urging Congress to pass the bill, which is currently before the U.S. Senate. CUNA estimates that lifting the MBL cap would generate nationally $13 billion in new small business loans and help create 140,000 jobs, with no cost to the taxpayer.