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News Now

CU System
Web-only CU to launch in May
ROCKVILLE, Md. (1/30/09)--Realtors FCU, the first Web-only credit union, is set to open in early May, with a potentially “huge” field of membership, according to Realtors FCU CEO Tom Glatt. “We will have to work extremely hard to manage growth,” he told News Now. The credit union’s field of membership will comprise members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), their families and staff. NAR has 1.2 million registered members nationwide. Because there are so many potential members throughout the country, “it never made sense to establish a branch network,” Glatt said. Members will perform all transactions--from account sign-up to lending applications--on the Web. A 24-hour call center through Digital Dialogue, now Total Member Care, will be available. Realtors FCU will primarily offer fee-free checking. Other services include consumer, auto, and mortgage loans. Realtors plans to offer a full range of services, but there are some limitations. For instance, the credit union will offer share certificates for only up to one year, Glatt said. With online-only services, security will be the credit union’s biggest challenge. “We have to be the latest and greatest to be compliant,” Glatt said. “We have to have the means built in so who we’re dealing with at the other end of the mouse is who they say they are.” Skeptics have questioned Realtors FCU’s timing because the housing market is troubled. “People say it’s the worst time,” Glatt said. “But [realtors] need us right now. That’s our stated purpose. This is exactly the time. “They’re good people and they make a living helping us find a house. [The economy] is doubly tough on them as consumers and on their jobs,” he added. Realtors FCU received its charter last November, but the idea for the credit union has been around for eight years. “Dale Stinton [CEO of NAR] kicked around the idea for a long time,” Glatt said. NAR supported the credit union’s start-up with a $15 million gift. Creating a Web-only credit union has been a learning process not just for Glatt and his staff, but also for Realtors’ vendors. Most vendors’ systems are set up to convert systems, instead of starting systems. “It’s a very interesting process,” Glatt said. “Our vendors have been great.” “We have a great relationship with the National Credit Union Administration--they’re working with us to make sure we do this right,” he added. Realtors’ Web-only model will be the first of its kind, but not likely the last. “We want to help other credit unions expand their electronic services,” Glatt said. “We’re all credit union people--we’re willing to share.”


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