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Just three years ago, someone who mentioned “twitter” or “tweet” in a business meeting would draw blank stares. Today “Twitter” and “tweet” is part of the everyday lexicon, and using Twitter is an important branding vehicle for many companies, including credit unions. Who would have thought 140-character micro-blogging would become so vital? While forecasting the next hot technology isn’t an exact science, here is a list of technologies that gained traction in 2010, and just might change the strategic landscape for credit unions in 2011. This is part two of a two-part News Now series on hot technologies for credit unions in 2011.
* Online rewards programs. how Cardlytics, Atlanta, is creating rewards programs for financial institutions through online statements, Jim Bruene, the author and publisher of the Online Banking Report and the blog Netbanker, told News Now. Users log into their online banking accounts and find promotions linked to their transactions. For example, underneath a transaction from an eatery, there may be an offer for $5 off if the consumer spends a minimum of $10. So far companies such as McDonald’s and Macy’s have signed on with Cardlytics and the company has partnered with more than 50 financial institutions, including credit unions. * Fraud prevention. Banks and credit unions will begin taking a more serious look at software-based fraud prevention systems in much the same way they monitor the Bank Secrecy Act compliance and money laundering, said Steve Williams, principal of the consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., and one of the authors of the online newsletter Gonzobanker.com. These systems typically rely on transaction and customer monitoring to identify “red flags” that may indicate a fraud attempt is in progress. “I’ve seen more credit unions go harder at implementing these systems and spend the staff time to make them work,” Williams said. * Member analytics. Williams believes credit unions will focus more on member analytics in 2011. Where in the past credit unions focused on product use and relationship building with their analytics, increasingly they are emphasizing earnings, because credit union margins are threatened by corporate credit union upheaval and interchange regulation. “The analytics to measure the retail portion of your business are more important than ever,” Williams said. * Person-to-person payments. (P2P) Some financial institutions, including The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif.; Boeing Employees CU, Tukwila, Wash.; and Patelco CU, San Francisco, already offer P2P payments, at least on a trial basis. Rudy Pereira, senior vice president of operations and technology at Alliant CU, Chicago, said that although financial institutions are intermediaries in the P2P process, consumers will look to them to ensure a secure transaction environment. * Tablet technology. Pereira says the iPad is the “beginning of the storm” for tablets. He noted that PC makers are rolling out their own tablets as laptop growth declines. Pereira says his credit union is already taking advantage of the iPad’s portability to streamline workflow management. “Folks can be away from their desk and still drive workflow,” he says. He said that same portability can be used for business development and loan member applications. “The possibilities are virtually endless,” Pereira said. “The whole delivery channel needs to be rethought with tablet technology.” * Cloud computing. Cloud computing is location independent. Hardware and software are housed on off-site servers and accessed on demand. Peirera said the flexibility offered by cloud computing makes it attractive to businesses of all sizes. In the credit union world, cloud computing could make credit union mergers much easier from a back office perspective. * Blippy and Swipely. Blippy and Swipely are services that allows consumers to automatically share their transactions online. Friends then have an opportunity to share their comments. Bruene acknowledged that sharing this sort of information is not for everyone, but adds that it adds a new context to the viewing of financial transactions. “People are getting used to seeing streams of data, via Facebook feeds and Twitter feeds,” he said. “Now banking transactions can be viewed in the same way.” And, don’t dismiss the potential these services offer, he added. For example, with the proliferation of debit cards it’s harder than ever to keep track of transactions, he noted. With Blippy and Swipely, couples that share a checking account can update each other on their transactions in almost real time. Or, parents could monitor their children’s transactions.
Who knows, next year at this time consumers may ask, “Do you blip?”
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