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CU System Briefs (01/09/2014)

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  • ST. LOUIS (1/9/14)--The Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation (MCUCF) began 2014 with a new logo and a renewed mission of supporting educational initiatives for the community and credit union professionals. "Our new logo represents credit unions, their communities and the Missouri Credit Union Association coming together to form MCUCF," said Executive Director Maria Langston (Missouri Difference Jan. 8). The foundation will team up with the Missouri Council on Economic Education to hold financial reality fairs at high schools. A special reality fair will be held March 11 at the Capitol Rotunda in during the Missouri Credit Union Association's annual advocacy meeting in Jefferson City. MCUCF will also sponsor Youth Savings Month events in April. The foundation has provided funding for more than 380 scholarships for credit union professionals in Missouri. It also will continue to work with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals ...
  • MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (1/9/14)--The board of directors of AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., selected Anna May Nauss to succeed C. Kipp Stecher as president/CEO. Nauss has been with the credit union for 28 years, most recently as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Stecher retired from the $160 million-asset credit union in December ...
  • LYNCHBURG, Va. (1/9/14)--A former longtime teller of the now-defunct Lynrocten FCU, Lynchburg, Va., pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal embezzlement charges in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia. Teresa Wieringo Humphries, 58, of Madison Heights, Va., admitted to stealing more than $1 million from the credit union, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy. He said Humphries falsified loan documents and participated in check-kiting schemes that cost the credit union more than $7 million overall and contributed to its collapse. The National Credit Union Administration liquidated the credit union in May. It had 1,068 members and about $13.8 million in assets, according to the agency (News Now 5/6/13). At sentencing, Humphries faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million ...
     

CO-OP Hits Record 2.8B Transactions in '13

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/9/14)--CO-OP Financial Services processed a record 2.8 billion electronic funds transfer (EFT) and shared-branch transactions in 2013, an increase of 10% compared with 2012.

The figures were boosted by the last few days of the holiday buying season, with a single-day record of more than 9 million transactions recorded Saturday, Dec. 21. Also, records for transactions in a single hour, minute and second were set Dec. 24, highlighted by a peak of 223 transactions per second.

"The transaction processing records set by CO-OP in 2013 demonstrate that credit unions can compete with anyone in terms of terms of debit, credit, ATM and branch services," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO.

With transactions increasing at an annual rate of 10%, CO-OP Financial Services would surpass 3 billion transactions in 2014. In 2004, the company reached 1 billion in annual transactions, and in 2010 CO-OP Financial Services first topped 2 billion transactions.

Experts: Mobile, Content Will Drive Marketing in '14

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--This year's marketing forecast is closely tied to mobile and social media--areas considered essential for today's credit union marketers but also remain elusive as core marketing tools. Experts also say 2014 will require time-tested values and messaging, strategies credit unions have built their reputations on. Marketing success will likely depend on a blend of both, with strategy driven by consumer expectations, experts said.
 
"I see a lot of buzzy trends that get more noise than maybe they are due," Jeffry Pilcher, publisher of the online marketing publication The Financial Brand, told News Now. "Sometimes what flies under the radar is what accounts for the changes that take place."
 
Among the trends that will shape marketing in 2014:
  • Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses computer code to anonymously "follow" website visitors after they leave an organization's Web page. Say a member goes online to checks out credit union's loan rates, and later in the day visits the ESPN's Web site. The credit union can then post a targeted ad asking if the member is still interesting in financing. "Instead of broadcasting or mass marketing, you already have somebody on the hook," Pilcher said. "Reel them in. You can get really specific with it. It's pretty powerful stuff."
  • New technology tools will enhance targeted marketing, said Michelle Hunter, chair of the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council and senior vice president of marketing and development for $723 million-asset Credit Union of Southern California in Whittier. Every home banking and debit transaction creates a clearer picture of members' preferences and habits, Hunter says in the January issue of Credit Union Magazine. That information is becoming more actionable with new tools and technology such as real-time analytical software, Facebook and mobile applications, mobile marketing and search engine optimization. To read more predictions for the coming year, read "Charting Your Course Through 2014" on page 17 in the January issue of Credit Union Magazine.
  • Mobile advertising is still emerging, but its eventual acceptance is inevitable, Pilcher said. There's a dynamic going on among the mobile phone, the place it's taking in peoples lives, and how many people are using it for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail," he said. Now organizations must find a way to gain the mobile users attention, he adds. "It's going to be tricky, but it's going to be big, and the ones that figure it out are going to be very successful," Pilcher said.
  • Social media advertising starts with Facebook, and Facebook advertising starts with targeting consumers who "like" your Facebook page, Pilcher said. By taking "likes" to a second level, credit unions can mine look-alike Facebook profiles. "Facebook knows what music you listen to, where you spend your time, who you interact with," Pilcher said. "Tell me that's not a better use of [a marketer's] time than filing posts about your last annual meeting." Credit unions can mine similar data in YouTube and Twitter, Pilcher said.
  • Content is king. Consumers are tired of sales pitches, Mark Anrold, credit union brand expert and strategic planner, told News Now. Marketers must move their promotions away from product-of the-month type messages and more towards financial education and values-based branding, Arnold said. Information about money, finances and local events that add value will increase member engagement with the organization, Arnold said.
Increasingly that content is video. "It really adds emotion to your marketing," Arnold said, adding that at the same time, credit unions have to be on point with their message. "Consumers are consuming more information but they are digesting information in smaller bites. He suggested credit unions conduct a marketing audit. "We audit everything in credit unions. We audit loans and teller drawers, but we hardly ever audit marketing. It's a practical way to find where you can cut copy and hone your message."
  • User experience is also essential. "You've got focus on what is it like for your members to do business with your credit union," Arnold said. The branch is just part of the experience, he explained. Consumers also define convenience by website and mobile accessibility. The user experience is closely tied to the credit union's brand, Arnold said. "Are you transaction-based or are you education-oriented? Are you white collar, or are you folksy? It's different for every credit union, but you have to identify it and consistently link it to your brand. It's more important than ever that consumers identify you with that experience."

'Get Rich Slowly' Blogger Considers Switch to CUs

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FOSTER CITY, Calif. (1/9/14)--Kristin Wong, a writer for the personal finance blog "Get Rich Slowly," is determined to leave her bank this year, and with that, is investigating the advantages that credit unions provide.
 
Wong started the year with a number of money-related resolutions, one of which was "switch banks." Her current account with a bank not only doesn't earn interest, it also charges her a $12 fee when she drops below the minimum balance. "That's just rude," she wrote Jan. 2.
 
In her most recent post, she considers the pros and cons of credit unions and banks. "The main draw I've often heard about credit unions is they offer lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings," she wrote Wednesday.
 
Wong also looked at no- or low-fee checking accounts and overdraft charges in her comparison.
 
However, the not-for-profit, member-owned structure put credit unions in the win column for business model, she said.
 
"Overall, though, a non-profit structure usually translates to: a) not feeling like your financial institution is trying to take advantage of you, and; b) not seeing your financial institution's name next to the words 'crooked' and 'discrimination,'" Wong wrote.
 
Even as Wong continues her research, perhaps what will be more helpful will be the numerous comments made by readers about shared branching, no-fee ATM networks and member service.
 
"Get Rich Slowly" is a personal finance blog that was founded by J.D. Roth in 2006.

Payments Systems' Future is New CUNA Roundtable Topic

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--The Credit Union National Association and the CUNA Technology Council just announced a new payments system roundtable that will provide credit unions with an in-depth look at the future of payments, as well as allow the forum's participants to shape that future through discussions with their peers and industry experts.
 
The CUNA Payments Roundtable will take place May 5-6 in Las Vegas in conjunction with the CUNA Technology Council conference.
 
"The payments industry is clearly up-in-the-air. Credit unions will benefit most from understanding the latest trends, interacting with peers and setting a payments strategy, rather than waiting and reacting to others in the financial industry," said James Carrick, assistant vice president of CPD learning events at CUNA. "This roundtable will equip attendees with the tools to act."
 
With an emphasis on keeping its content up-to-date, the roundtable will act as a central hub of resources as payments systems evolve.
 
Speakers and presentations will cover:
  • The State of Technology and Payments;
  • The Six Things That Will Change the Future of Payments;
  • The Rapidly Evolving Mobile Wallet Landscape;
  • Data Analytics and Your Credit Union;
  • A Value Based Approach: Vancity's Successful Payments Strategy;
  • Bitcoin: What It Is and Why It's Gaining Interest; and
  • Setting a Direction for Your Payments Strategy.
 For more information and to register, use the link.

S. Dakota CUs Add Billboards to Promote Tax Status Message

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PIERRE, S.D. (1/9/14)--The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) is taking its tax status battle with state bankers to the streets with a billboard campaign reminding consumers that 251,000 South Dakotans depend on credit unions every day for their financial well-being.
 
While South Dakota Bankers Association continues to push its proposal to tax credit unions, its efforts have largely failed to get support from the local governing bodies. The state bankers' association is shopping for a resolution sponsor for the upcoming South Dakota state legislative session.
 
On Dec. 30, two CUAD-sponsored billboards went up near the Pierre, the state capital, where the South Dakota legislative session opens Tuesday. The first two billboards will be displayed until Feb. 23. A third billboard will go up Monday near Wall, and a fourth will be on display in Rapid City starting Jan. 20. 
 
Also, CUAD will run advertisements with the same message on monitors in the Pierre Regional Airport throughout 2014.
 
CUAD is next scheduled to advocate for credit unions at the Yankton Area Progressive Growth Committee and at the Vermillion and Brookings School Board meetings Tuesday.

USA Today Spotlights CUNA Data for Mobile Payments Snapshot

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--Research from the Credit Union National Association hit the money--the Money section of USA Today, that is--for a "USA Snapshot."
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Wednesday's print edition of the national publication featured content from CUNA's mobile payment survey. Titled "Youngest adults are not the top users of mobile payments," the graphic broke down the age groups.
 
The youngest age group of 18-29 came in at 58%--slightly below the 60% of the 30- to 44-year-old age range--for using mobile payments. The 45-60 range reported 48% usage, and 24% of those older than 61 said they used mobile payments.
 
CUNA's Mobile Payments Survey polled 1,046 people via the Internet from a population of mobile phone users. The October survey revealed that more than half of smartphone users make payments with their device. Security is the biggest concern for 77.7% of those users (News Now 10/30/13).
 
In September, USA TODAY featured findings from CUNA's Women's Financial Survey as the "USA Snapshot" on the front page of its Money section. The national publication also tweeted the content and graphic later that month (News Now 9/27/13).
 

Survey: Mobile Banking Products Can Attract Small Businesses

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ANDOVER, Mass. (1/9/14)--Improved mobile banking could lead to mobile money, a recently published study has found.
 
Nearly two-thirds of small business owners said they would move their money to banks with better mobile products, according to the research firm ath Power (American Banker Jan. 7).
 
Banks, however, appear to be falling short in tapping this demand. The study found that in 839 branch visits by small business owners in the second half of last year, 37% of bank representatives failed to mention mobile banking services.
 
The research also included a poll of small business owners' satisfaction with 38 banks. Bank of the West, Associated Banc Corp (ASBC) and JPMorgan Chase received the highest ratings at 80, 79 and 79 out of 100 points. Survey participants gave the trio high marks for being attentive to their needs, building relationships and demonstrating why they were better than bank competitors. The average score was 71, down three points from last year's survey.
 
Another survey in the study showed that bankers aren't following up prospective customers at the rate they were last year. About 70% of bank employees asked customers for their name and contact information, down from 78% last year. Just under two-thirds, 66%, asked for permission to follow up with customers--down from 71% in 2012.

The survey also showed that 90% of small business owners said they would patronize a bank if asked by employees for permission to follow up, while just 62% of those not asked reported a willingness to become customers. 
 
The study did not include any observations about credit unions.