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'Overwhelming' response to N.J. CUs' 'trust' billboard

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/16/14)--The New Jersey Credit Union League reported an "overwhelming" response to a recent billboard campaign that supported the "Banking You Can Trust" credit union awareness website.  

 
A New Jersey Credit Union League billboard campaign displayed the $47,589,899 dollar figure that New Jersey credit unions saved New Jersey residents in 2013 and a unique URL tracked back to the Banking You Can Trust site with an explanation of the number. The campaign helped attract a record 6,000 unique visitors and more than 11,000 page views to the Banking You Can Trust website in the first quarter (New Jersey Credit Union League photo)

The "Banking You Can Trust" website attracted a record 6,000 unique visitors and more than 11,000 page views in the first quarter. More than 56% of the traffic can be attributed back to a secretive billboard campaign the league ran through its Banking You Can Trust advertising program.
 
The billboard campaign was simple, displaying just the $47,589,899 figure that New Jersey credit unions saved New Jersey residents in 2013 and a unique URL, www.whyitsimportant.com. The URL tracked back to the "Banking You Can Trust" site with an explanation of the number.
 
During the process of understanding the billboard, 24.5% of visitors searched for a credit union during their visit to the site. Visitors through the campaign also spent significantly longer on the site, over four minutes, compared with visitors from all other advertising outlets.
 
"We kept the billboard campaign a secret so we could analyze the impact and success of the campaign without too many credit union folks visiting the site upon launch," said Candice Nigro, the league's director of marketing and communications ( Daily Exchange April 15). "The campaign began running over Super Bowl weekend and will continue through 2014, but we will change the message throughout."
 
April numbers are already looking strong for the campaign with almost 60% of visitors coming from the billboards.

 

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CUNA site safe from Heartbleed security flaw

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/14)--The Credit Union National Association's information technology team assures that CUNA's customer-facing websites are not impacted by the Heartbleed security issue that has been reported in News Now and the general press.
 
CUNA Vice President of IT Tom Nohelty said Tuesday that CUNA is applying all Heartbleed patches to applicable systems, even to environments not currently using the Open Secure Socket Layer (OpenSSL) technology at issue with the Heartbleed "bug."
 
"This extra measure will prevent any future problems if we choose to implement OpenSSL at a later time," Nohelty explained.
 
The Heartbleed threat is a flaw in the OpenSSL technology that is used to establish secure links between servers and users. Although CUNA and many credit unions have been able to assure their web users in the face of the security threat, Heartbleed has reportedly exposed millions of usernames, passwords and other information.
 
In general, Nohelty said, CUNA would recommend that all users of its website change their passwords on a routine basis to protect themselves and their personal data as these kinds of security issues will continue to present themselves.

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Card, member protection headline Calif. league rally

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/16/14)--The collective voice of California credit unions was heard loud and clear in Sacramento April 7-8, as industry leaders from throughout the state took part in the California Credit Union League's (CCUL) 2014 Government Relations Rally.

More than 75 participants traveled to the state capitol to meet and build relationships with the state's lawmakers ( In the News April 15).

Among other issues, card security and consumer protection headlined discussions between industry leaders and legislators during the event, as, of course, problems with data breaches persist.

"It's important for the credit union industry to come together and be a stronger voice for consumers," said Donna Bland, CEO, The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, with $8.2 billion in assets. "I would hope that today's issue regarding card security would be common ground for all financial institutions. It's not a political issue, it's about consumer protection."

Several bills, including those concerned with the 2015 Europay-Mastercard-Visa (EMV) chip deadline for card issuers and retailers; personal privacy protection; tax credits; and the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) loan payments, also received considerable attention.

"If we don't show up, we could face the unintended consequences of bad legislation," said John Cassidy, CEO, Sierra Central CU, Yuba City, with $671 million in assets. "Our capacity of communicating our message to legislators has never been better, but it needs to continue to grow. Engaging with lawmakers is the way to accomplish this."

"It's crucial you are here and tell your story," added Jan Owen, California Department of Business Oversight commissioner, before the event kicked off ( In the News April 14).

Deputy Commissioner of Credit Unions Erick Orellana, in a session co-hosted with Owen, spoke about the financial health of state-licensed credit unions.

While the state-licensed credit unions carry a bit more risk than the average California credit union, Orellana said, they continue to be stable and strong. Financial data keeps improving as well, he said.

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Have Bankziety? Minn. league prescribes a cure

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/16/14)--Wedding season is around the corner, and if your wallet has the wedding bell blues, it may need a visit to the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN) Bankziety website.
 
The average wedding budget skirted a record-high $30,000 in 2013, according to wedding website TheKnot.com , which surveyed 13,000 brides and grooms married last year, and MnCUN's consumer education website has tips for this year's newlyweds in waiting.
 
Bankziety's "wedding planning woes" section offers tips to get off on the right foot while walking down the aisle:
  • Make a list of short- and long-term needs and wants. Is there a new car or house in the future? Set a savings goal to cover a down payment.
  • Build an emergency fund, pronto.
  • Develop and stick to a budget that includes financial goals. Make sure to revisit it to reassess the goals' status.
Consumers can check their symptoms of house-buying headaches, baby budget blues and retirement restlessness--all of which can be cured with a helpful credit union that Bankziety can help locate.
 
MnCUN's website defines Bankziety as "uneasiness, distress or mental apprehension, usually over an impending interaction with a bank; anticipated financial stress; concern over banking fees and rates."
 
The refreshed site, which was launched two years ago, also features stories from members who have been "cured" of using banks.
 
"Today's uncertain economic times have left many consumers confused about who they can trust when it comes to their money, but Minnesota credit unions have the cure for their Bankziety," said league president/CEO Mark Cummins.

Mobile payments to jump 40% globally: Juniper

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HAMPSHIRE, U.K. (4/16/14)--The value of payments completed through mobile devices worldwide will reach around $507 billion this year, a rise of nearly 40% year-over-year, according to a new report from Juniper Research.
 
The growth will be driven by purchases of physical goods, according to the report, "Mobile Payment Strategies: Remote, Contactless and Money Transfer 2014-2018." Average transaction sizes made with tablets are already exceeding those via desktop PCs in many markets. While spending on smartphones is increasing sharply, their primary function in retail lies search-and-discovery devices, with the final purchase being made on the tablet.
 
Meanwhile, the scale of digital transactions received a boost through mobile ticketing applications, with metro and transit authorities in Europe and North America that have already deployed services experiencing high levels of adoption.
 
However, the report observed that progress in contactless mobile payments had been slow, with few commercial launches. Nevertheless, it argued that the prognosis for the medium term was brighter, following the emergence of cloud-based solutions which offer the opportunity for reduced time to market for near-field communication solutions.

CUs on tap for panel at May 21 National Savings Forum

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WASHINGTON (4/16/14)--The Consumer Federation of America's National Savings Forum will feature credit union representatives on its panel discussions.
 
The forum, set for May 21 in Washington, D.C., includes updates from the America Saves program.
 
Bill Myers, director of the Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives at the National Credit Union Administration, will moderate the session on business models for the low- to moderate-income market. Credit unions will be represented by:
  • George Hofheimer, chief research and innovation officer, Filene Research Institute;
  • Cathie Mahon, president/CEO, Federation of Community Development Credit Unions;
  • Paul Phillips, president/CEO, Freedom First FCU, Roanoke, Va.; and
  • Rick Wieczorek, president/CEO, Mid-Atlantic FCU, Germantown, Md.
Gigi Hyland, director of the National Credit Union Foundation, will moderate the panel on how public policy fosters savings from youth to retirement.
 
The National Savings Forum is presented by the Consumer Federation of America, Aspen Institute, Initiative on Financial Security, Credit Union National Association, Investment Company Institute, National Credit Union Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Students' new biz scores sweet Biz Kid$ win

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/16/14)--Beacon FCU, La Porte, Texas, and its partnering school, Hamshire-Fannett Middle School are the winners of the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation's "BizKid$" Entrepreneur Contest.
 
"Biz Kid$" is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches young people about money management and entrepreneurship.
 
In January, the foundation, in partnership with the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas (CCCS), conducted a training session with classroom teachers, principals, superintendents and counselors ( Leaguer April 15).  The one-day training was broken down into two parts: personal financial education training conducted by CCCS, and "BizKid$ Train the Trainer" conducted by the foundation. 
 
Each school then selected a team who would work with their partner credit union to come up with a business plan, and then present those plans to an impartial panel of judges. Beacon FCU, with $129 million in assets, and Hamshire-Fannett Middle School, Beaumont, won for their "Yum Yum Shop" school-sponsored concession stand.
 
Beacon FCU was one of three credit unions to participate in the pilot program, which was funded by a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
Other credit unions that participated in the pilot included $444 million-asset FivePoint CU, Nederland, Texas, and $47 million-asset Dallas CU. FivePoint CU collaborated with Horace Mann Junior High, Baytown, and Dallas CU with Francisco "Pancho" Medrano Middle School, Dallas. All three credit unions selected up to three teachers each to work with for the pilot program.
 
"Drawing on each other's strengths, all three schools came up with creative and detailed business plans," said Courtney Moran, foundation executive director. "I'm confident that this experience made an impression on students, and having gone through this exercise, they have a better sense of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. And perhaps more importantly, they understand how important it is as a consumer, and small business owner, to have that credit union relationship."
 
As the winner, the Hamshire-Fannett Middle School class will receive:
  • Breakfast at Cracker Barrel;
  • T-shirts indicating they are all BizKid$;
  • A tablecloth personalized with the Yum Yum Shop logo;
  • A celebratory banner for the classroom;
  • Certificates; and
  • Trophies.                   
Educator Tammie Terrell was to receive a $500 gift card to Office Depot, but she will share with her students by either opening a Beacon FCU savings account or certificate of deposit with $100 for each student. Beacon FCU will receive a $1,500 grant to purchase "BizKid$" box set DVDs, which it will donate to libraries, schools and after-school programs.
 
In May, participants will come together at the Cornerstone Credit Union League's headquarters in Farmers Branch, Texas, to discuss the pilot program, take part in a retirement fair and play Money Habitudes, a game that helps people talk about money, understand financial psychology and explain their money personality type.

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CU System briefs (04/16/2014)

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  • AUGUSTA, Maine (4/16/14)-- The search is on for a new "Spokester" in Maine, a creative, tech-savvy individual who can represent Generation Y, ages 18 to 25, and connect them to the credit union movement. Under the umbrella of the Maine Credit Union League's Young and Free Maine program , this young person for one year will develop entertaining educational content, tips and tools to help peers manage their own finances. Applications must be submitted between April 2 and May 19. "As (outgoing Spokester Lauren Reeves') eventful career comes to an end, we're looking for someone who's creative, energetic and outgoing, someone who can use social media to connect with their peers, get involved in the community and continue to share all that Maine's credit unions have to offer this generation," said league President John Murphy ...
     
  •  MADISON, Wis. (4/16/14)--The deadline to submit the best efforts by individual credit unions in marketing, advertising or publication is fast approaching. Entries for this year's Credit Union National Association Blockbuster Awards are due Friday. Kill it in advertising in 2013? Orchestrate a dynamic Twitter campaign? Let the credit union world know. Participants can pick from 14 different categories to enter, including one "Best of Show" award. Known as the highest honor for communications in the credit union industry nationwide, the awards will be handed out during the GAPS/ Communicators Conference June 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington. Winners will be notified in May ... 
     
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/16/14)-- A team of high school students from Milton, Mass, is on its way to the LifeSmarts National Competition in Orlando, Fla., April 26-29 ( Daily CU Scan April 15). The group won the state's LifeSmarts Coalition, presented by the Jump$tart Coalition. The Massachusetts Credit Union League and its CU Effects financial literacy program are sponsoring the team as it makes its way to the finals. LifeSmarts is an educational competition that tests middle school and high school students on real-life consumer issues through online quizzes and live competition (Massachusetts Credit Union League photo) . . .

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