WASHINGTON (3/7/14)--With the weight of their combined 14,000 financial institution memberships behind them, the Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers of America and the American Bankers Association sent a joint letter of support for a new bill to fight patent system abuses.
The bill (S. 2049) was introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) late last month and is titled the "Transparency in Assertion of Patents Act." It would curb unfair and deceptive practices during assertions of patents against legitimate businesses, including credit unions and banks.
The legislation takes an important step toward addressing the "exponentially growing threat of Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), commonly referred to as 'patent trolls,'" the joint letter states.
If enacted, it would help to address the burden credit unions and banks face when trying to decipher vague and misleading demand letters. And, the letter asserts, it would do so by taking specific aim at the problem, without affecting the rights of legitimate patent holders to send demand letters or otherwise assert their patent rights.
S. 2049 would clarify the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) authority to require basic information, such as the owner of the patent and specific technology involved, to be included in letters sent by PAEs.
"This will help the victims of trolls to quickly and inexpensively understand the infringement claim and how best to respond to it," the letter said.
The CUNA joint letter also noted that legitimate patent holders would benefit from McCaskill's bill because it would empower the FTC to specify what constitutes a deceptive demand letter.
"This would provide patent holders with certainty of how to assert a patent without any risk that it could be labeled unfair or deceptive. Civil penalties would be imposed on those that continue to send out 'bad faith' demand letters, with exceptions provided for communications between parties on existing licensing agreements."
Once introduced, S. 2049 was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
The chairman of that committee, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), is a co-sponsor of the bill. The CUNA joint letter was sent to the chairman and the ranking member of the committee, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
CUNA and the banking trades told the committee leaders that they look forward to working with members of the committee to find a "bipartisan solution that directly addresses the growing abuse of our patent system and the specious demand letters that are having a negative impact on our industry, our customers, and the American economy."
NEW YORK (3/7/14)--As the Credit Union National Association works for merchant accountability for breaches to their data systems, the results of a new study show a startlingly high 67% of business owners polled are not concerned about credit card security at their businesses.
Newtek Business Services, with a portfolio of more than 100,000 business accounts, announced the findings of its latest Small Business Authority Market Sentiment Survey
, a monthly snapshot of the concerns of independent business owners.
"Based on a poll of over 1,400 respondents, one of the key findings from the February survey is that even after the recent hackings at major companies such as Target and Neiman Marcus, 67% of business owners are not concerned about credit card security at their business," Newtek said in a release. Newtek is a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.
What's more, Newtek reported, 63% of business owners are unaware of Europay-MasterCard-Visa (EMV) chip card technology. EMV is a global standard for credit and debit payment cards based on chip card technology.
The Credit Union National Association supports the adoption of EMV technology--which goes beyond magnetic stripes and contain an embedded chip for stronger security. However, CUNA strongly emphasizes that no one technology can address the burgeoning problem of merchant data breaches.
As the credit union trade association has underscored in a series of letters to federal lawmakers, inconsistent data security standards need to be addressed before a solution to merchant data breaches can be achieved.
"(A) prime reason that merchant data breaches are a chronic issue is because data security standards are inconsistent among the participants in the payments system," CUNA has pointed out, adding, "Simply put: credit unions and other financial institutions are subject to high data protection standards under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act; merchants are not. When merchant data breaches occur, financial institutions--not merchants--bear the costs of replacing credit and debit cards and fraud costs."
In another EMV development, CO-OP Financial Services welcomed a recent agreement for debit EMV security standards between Visa Inc. and First Data STAR Network, a major electronic funds transfer system. (News Now
The credit union-owned ATM network operator said Feb. 26 that a number of its clients are in the STAR Network, and that it is also seeking to implement similar protective technologies like the one Visa and First Data hope to spread through their agreement.
TOLEDO, Ohio (3/7/14)--In his March 3 column, the
Keith Burris praised upstart community development credit union Nueva Esperanza Community CU for making a difference in the local Hispanic community.
Nueva Esperanza, organized under the leadership of former Toledo alderman Adam Martinez, opened for business in 2011. "Now Nueva Esperanza has 450 members, a loan portfolio of about a half a million dollars, and $1.4 million in [assets]," Burris wrote.
Nueva Esperanza Community CU was also among 35 low-income credit unions to receive $21 million in funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) in September (
"What does it do for people? A few car loans," Burris added. "Citizenship loans--so a person can go through the naturalization process. That costs $5,000 to $7,000. Mostly, this credit union makes very down-to-earth dreams come true. Like a man who started his own landscaping business with a loan of $5,000. Or a man who borrowed $4,000 to put a furnace in his home. He had been heating the place with space heaters and could not sleep at night because he feared for the safety of his children."
Sue Cuevas, a former bank branch manager, is Nuevas Esperanza Community CU's CEO. Cuevas, the daughter of a minister, told Burris she left her job at the bank to help people. "It's how she was raised," Burris wrote.
Burris compared the work that Nueva Esperanza Community CU does for local Hispanics to civil rights work. "It's about initiatives that can really change life for people of modest means," he wrote. "The new civil rights movement is economic and pragmatic."
MADISON, Wis. (3/7/14)--Credit Unions for Kids and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) are partnering to enhance the financial education opportunities for patients and families at every Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital nationwide.
Credit unions and leagues can now sponsor a box set of "Biz Kid$" DVDs for their local CMN Hospital for $300. Donations will help patients suchs Tony Signorelli, the Children's Miracle Network's "Miracle Child" from Oregon, who is holding the eight-DVD set of the TV show "Biz Kid$." Signorelli was born with Dandy-Walker syndrome and Liddle's syndrome, both of which are extremely rare. Dandy-Walker syndrome is a congenital brain malformation that causes intracranial pressure. Liddle's syndrome involves abnormal kidney function when too much sodium is reabsorbed and too much potassium is lost. (Photo provided by National Credit Union Foundation)
Credit unions and leagues can now sponsor a box set of 65 episodes of "Biz Kid$" on DVDs for their local CMN Hospital for $300. If box sets are purchased by March 15, donations to the hospitals will be during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month.
Under the umbrella of Credit Unions for Kids, the credit union movement is the third-largest corporate contributor to CMN Hospitals, behind only Wal-Mart and Costco. Credit Unions for Kids has raised more than $110 million for CMN Hospitals since its inception in 1996.
Biz Kid$ is a financial literacy initiative of the NCUF that includes an award-winning TV series, free classroom curriculum, outreach activities, a website and a monthly online newsletter targeting children 9 to 16 years old.
"We hope the donation of the 'Biz Kid$'" program will develop an even deeper credit union/hospital relationship where credit unions not only support the financial needs of the hospital but also the financial needs of the patient families," said Danielle Brown, NCUF director of development and donor relations.
Each eight-disc set of "Biz Kid$" for the CMN Hospitals donation program has been specially created with room for a credit union or league to customize the DVD box set with its logo or URL.
Each participating credit union or league that sponsors a "Biz Kid$" DVD box set by March 15 will be included in CU4Kids and NCUF press releases touting the initiative and receive acknowledgement on the NCUF and CU4Kids websites. Sponsors will also receive thanks via Twitter by @CU4Kids and appear in a "thank you" ad running in credit union trade publications.
"In addition to being valuable for the kids and their families, we strongly believe this initiative will be beneficial for credit unions as well," said Felicity Guerin, Credit Unions for Kids development manager for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.
Ken Worthey, the NCUA's financial literacy and outreach analyst, talks to congressional staffers Thursday during a Capitol Hill event to mark National Consumer Protection Week. (NCUA photo)
The National Credit Union Administration Thursday joined in on a Capitol Hill celebration of National Consumer Protection Week by educating congressional staffers about credit unions and the role of their federal regulator.
March 2-8 is National Consumer Protection Week. It is intended to encourage Americans to be better informed in their consumer decisions. In his proclamation of the week, President Obama wrote, "This week, we remember that our nation's economy is only as strong as its people, and we recommit to fostering a sense of basic fairness in our marketplace." He called on government officials and private industry leaders to help educate Americans on their rights as consumers.
Ken Worthey, the NCUA's financial literacy and outreach analyst, participated in the day's Capitol Hill event.
The NCUA has used the declaration of the week to highlight the many resources it provides consumers--especially on its two consumer-oriented websites, MyCreditUnion.gov and Pocket Cents. These sites include tips to help consumers avoid financial scams and protect their financial well-being.
On its own site, the NCPW this week reminded users that a checking account at a credit union or other financial institution can serve as a less costly alternative to using check cashers or prepaid cards. The site also featured information on top consumer complaints, and highlighted state efforts to get vital money-saving information to consumers.
Use the resource link to visit the Credit Union National Association's consumer website, aSmarterChoice.org.
DULUTH, Ga. (3/7/14)--Total lending numbers edged savings for Georgia credit unions in 2013, according to a Georgia Credit Union Affiliates report, potentially signaling brighter days ahead for the state's economy (
Collectively, the state's 138 credit unions enjoyed a 6% increase in total lending over the 12-month stretch. Total savings balances, meanwhile, crept up 2.81%.
Both automobile loans and housing drove the lending gains, with new- and used-car loans climbing 11.2% and 7% respectively, while first- and second-mortgage loans rose by 5.9% and 2.3%.
"Family finances have been squeezed for a long time," said GCUA President/CEO Mike Mercer. "We're pleased to see more people participating in the recovering economy, moving past the uncertainty of the great recession (and) having the confidence to engage in household formation activities and in upgrading their vehicles."
Credit card balances at the Peach State's credit unions experienced a 2.9% increase, unsecured loans rose 6.7% and transaction account balances climbed 7.12%.
At the same time, credit quality improved with credit union member bankruptcy filings dropping by almost 25%.
The 2013 report also found:
- Regular savings account balances increased by 7.72%;
- Money market account balances grew 5.38%;
- IRA/Keogh account balances decreased 1.57%;
- Transaction account balances increased 7.12%; and
- Georgia credit union membership grew by 2.57%.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/7/14)--Columbus, Ohio's
recently featured Wright-Patt CU's cashless branch environment as a potential deterrent to robberies.
The Ohio Credit Union League connected
reporter Angela An with the $2.7 billion-asset Fairborn, Ohio-based credit union.
The Columbus area has experienced an increase in financial institution robberies, with more than 550 robberies reported in the last decade, An reported. Some financial institutions were robbed more than 10 times.
Wright-Patt CU recently opened a cashless branch equipped with personal teller machines, which look and operate much like ATMs, but members interact with a credit union representative through remote video.
"There's no need for cash drawers, and when members conduct their transactions, the money goes into a secure vault into the machine that the employees in the location do not have access to," Tammy Jones, Wright-Patt CU market leader, told
Without accessible cash, credit union employees feel safer, Wright-Patt CU member representatives told An.
Wright-Patt CU is planning to open at least five more member branches with PTMs in Central Ohio in the next few years.
To read the full article and watch the video, use the links.