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New guide tells how to tap remittance market

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SAN FRANCISCO (1/10/08)--Credit unions looking to tap the remittance market can consult a new guide which explains why many immigrants don’t use banks. “Banking in a Global Market,” by the Appleseed Network, a non-profit group, provides information for setting up a remittance program. It also compares current models that financial institutions use, such as offering dual ATM cards or partnering with money transfer operators (San Francisco Chronicle Jan. 8). Western Union and other money transfer companies currently dominate the remittance market, although financial institutions, including credit unions, have begun to participate. Many credit unions offer remittances through the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Remittance Network (IR Network). Many immigrants say large financial institutions target only the wealthy, and as a result, immigrants carry their money and are then targeted by thieves. Moving away from cash-based transactions can benefit immigrants, but it takes time to change consumer behavior, said Ann Baddour, one of the guide’s authors. Financial institutions who don’t serve the remittance market will lose out, she told the newspaper. The average amount of money immigrants send back to home countries has increased. In 2006, immigrants transferred $300 billion, with $23 billion moving from the U.S. to Mexico, the newspaper stated.

SpendSpace means consumers can compare their spending

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (1/10/08)--Consumers can compare their spending with others in any major U.S. city or state through a new website feature from Mint.com. Mint.com, a free website that allows users to track their money online, announced that SpendSpace, a consumer spending tracking solution, is available. With SpendSpace, consumers can see how much they spend on items such as food or mobile phones, compared with other consumers in their area, said Aaron Patzer, founder/CEO of Mint. “It’s helpful information to have when setting budgets, and it’s just kind of fun to know where you stand,” Patzer said. Mint.com users register anonymously with a valid e-mail address, and then connect online to their financial institutions. The website downloads transaction data from more than 3,500 financial institutions daily. An alert system lets users know about suspicious activity, low balances, bank fees and charges and upcoming bills. Mint also provides money-saving suggestions. It says the average user can find up to $1,000 in savings in the first session. All aggregations are anonymous, the company stated. In a customer survey from December 2007, 87% of respondents said they better understood their spending through Mint, and half had changed their spending behavior. The most frequent change cited was eating and drinking at home more often. Mint.com also has been awarded PC World’s Most Innovative Products Award.

New white papers discuss team environment innovative products

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MADISON, Wis. (1/10/08)--Two new CUNA Councils white papers can help credit create and thrive in a team environment. “Thriving in a Team Environment: Leading the Finance Team to Support Credit Union Strategy” from the CUNA Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Council outlines how a CFO or manager can create and maintain a team environment and lead the finance team to support credit union strategy. The paper also addresses broader aspects and applications of teamwork in credit unions and the different skills that managers must foster to thrive in a team environment. “Innovative Products That Generate Revenue” from the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service (OpSS) Council discusses product and service offerings that can help credit unions stand out in the financial services industry and attract new members. The paper contains credit union case studies of payday lending alternatives, family credit cards, online savings, student loans and more. CUNA Council members can receive complimentary copies of the papers. Non-members can purchase copies for $50 each. For more information, use the links.