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CU Companies reports earning cites correspondent lending

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NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (2/1/12)--Citing strong growth in ancillary services such as correspondent lending, CU Companies, a New Brighton, Minn.-based credit union service organization (CUSO), is reporting strong year-to-date earnings in the first five months of its fiscal year.

"We've always had the mindset of looking for ways to build economies of scale," said Brad Crandall, CU Companies CEO. "As a CUSO, that initially meant having multiple organizations come together to provide one service for all. Today that also means providing additional services that leverage our mortgage expertise."

Crandall credited the CU Companies' new secondary market solution, Correspondent Lending, for helping the organization create those economies of scale.

"We've been doing retail mortgage lending for nearly 25 years," he said. "We saw adding this new way of funding mortgages as a means to better manage the ebbs and flows of the industry while providing a solution for a growing need."

CUNA announces 2012 Reg Compliance SchoolseSchools

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MADISON, Wis. (2/1/12)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) 2012 Regulatory Compliance Schools will take place April 22-27 in Orlando, Fla. and Sept. 16-21 in Anaheim, Calif.

E-schools will be held on several dates throughout 2012 beginning March 6 and ending Nov. 27.

The CUNA Regulatory Compliance Schools feature annual regulatory updates, general overviews and advanced sessions. They are designed to provide credit union professionals of all backgrounds and skill levels an understanding of the major regulations affecting credit unions and their regulatory duties.

Testing to earn the Credit Union Compliance Expert designation is available onsite at the live events.

CUNA Regulatory Compliance Schools will cover a number of 2012 hot regulatory topics, including:

  • General Operations Regulations
    • Privacy (Reg P); and
    • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

  • Deposit Account Regulations
    • Transfer limits (Reg D); and
    • International remittances (Reg E).

  • NCUA Requirements & Guidance
    • Portfolio concentrations;
    • Diversity for minority credit unions; and
    • Risk management.

  • Mortgage Lending Regulations
    • Know Before You Owe Program;
    • Closed-end mortgage changes (Reg Z);
    • SAFE Act;
    • Troubled debt restructuring.

  • Consumer Lending Regulations
    • Open-end lending (Reg Z);
    • Lending to military personnel; and
    • Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Bluepoint reports record 2011 year-end results

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HENDERSON, Nev. (1/31/12)--Bluepoint Solutions grew its direct customer base by 36% with a 99% retention level during 2011--a record year for the provider of remote deposit capture, item-processing and enterprise-content management solutions.  

Bluepoint released its 2011 year-end results during its 11th annual company-wide kickoff meeting last week.

The company also added 22 full-time employees to its staff roster and is establishing a new corporate headquarters in Henderson, Nev. to accommodate future growth.

Bluepoint now works with seven corporate credit unions and credit union service organizations, giving more than 1,500 natural-person credit unions access to its suite of check capture, item processing and content-management product lines.

New technology solutions launched in 2011 included a real-time check-fraud detection suite and a mailroom remittance solution to capture and electronically process incoming deposits and payments. The company also expanded its mobile deposit solution by adding several new mobile banking partners.

Open Solutions delivers CUNnify core solution

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GLASTONBURY, Conn. (1/31/12)--Open Solutions Inc., a technology provider for credit unions and banks, has migrated all of its DNAsme credit union clients to CUnify, the company's upgraded core solution for credit unions with less than $250 million in assets.

Open Solutions has invested heavily in rewriting DNAsme. The result is the new CUnify platform, built on the Java development platform and the  Sybase database management system. The platform includes features designed to improve back-office operations and member service. As a result of the enhancement, Open Solutions' CUnify base has seen rapid growth in the past 18 months, increasing to 135 clients from 80.

CUnify is built around the member to help credit unions improve service and enhance loyalty.  Its real-time deposit, lending and internet banking functions reflect all changes as they occur to both employees and members, providing consistency between all channels.

"Open Solutions is committed to ensuring credit unions of all sizes have access to the functionality needed to compete effectively," said David Mitchell, executive vice president and chief marketing officer in charge of product management. "CUnify provides credit unions that typically have limited access to more costly solutions a robust and modern technology platform. With these investments we are stating clearly and categorically that this market and the CUnify product are major components of our go-forward strategy."

Tricorp LendingTools sign correspondent pact

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WICHITA, Kan. (1/30/12)--Corporate credit union Tricorp FCU,  Westbrook, Maine, has entered into an agreement with LendingTools.com (LT), a third-party provider of correspondent financial solutions, to deploy LT's Private Correspondent Gateway to member credit unions.

The partnership continues a trend of corporate credit unions looking to LT to provide a replacement to U.S. Central Bridge's APEX automated clearinghouse platform (ACH), said the new partners. LT provides ACH and other transaction, reporting and settlement technology services to correspondent institutions.

"We serve a very specialized market that few vendors understand," said Steve Roy, Tricorp FCU president/CEO of. "LT not only understands our unique needs, it has the vast experience and specialized technology required to help us provide quality financial services to our member credit unions."

Roy also said LT can integrate biometric authentication into its secure platform, to provide security for member credit unions.

Tricorp also can offer member credit unions branded cash management systems to  select employee groups (SEGs) through the partnership with LT. Credit unions can provide their SEGs with ACH services that integrate into Tricorp's Private Correspondent Gateway for processing.

Autoland launches 2012 sweepstakes

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CHATSWORTH, Calif. (1/30/12)--As part of its 2012 Sweepstakes, Autoland Inc., a credit union auto buying service, will select one credit union member each month throughout the year to win one month's car payment (up to $450).

"Each year, we develop a promotion that provides value both to our credit union partners and their members," said Jeff Martin, Autoland president. "As credit union auto lending returns to normal levels, this sweepstakes will generate excitement among members, drive direct loans to our partners and raise awareness of Autoland and the services we provide."

Members can enter the Sweepstakes online through participating partner credit union websites, by mail or directly at www.autoland.com. Car payment winners will be announced monthly.

More than 200 partner credit unions participated in last year's Autoland Sweepstakes, which featured prizes of 12 $500 gift cards.

The sweepstakes runs through Dec. 31 and is open to all legal residents of the U.S. and Washington D.C. (except residents of Florida, New York, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories and possessions) who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry and a member of an Autoland participating credit union at time of entry.

CUSN reaches 4Q milestone

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (1/30/12)--CU Service Network (CUSN), a shared branching network, reached a milestone during the fourth quarter of 2011 when it closed 24 partnerships in nine states. That included every state in which there are CUSN credit unions: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming.

In addition to shared branching, CUSN offers ancillary products such as mobile banking, remote deposit capture, disaster recovery, online membership applications, self-service kiosks and call-center services.

White paper focuses on ATM branding

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PHOENIX (1/27/12)--A free white paper from an electronic funds transfer provider describes the benefits of ATM branding as an alternative to traditional advertising.

the white paper explains how financial institutions can use ATM branding to increase awareness, attract new members and customers, promote products and services, and increase ATM fee income. Written by Josh Ettesvold, Express Teller Service Inc. president/CEO, the paper also details how ATM signage with compliance information built in can protect financial institutions from costly ATM fee disclosure lawsuits.

"We're seeing more and more financial institutions turn to ATM branding as an alternative to traditional advertising," said Ettesvold. "Billboards, for example, cost thousands of dollars for a single month's run and are seen by travelers for a second or two. ATM branding--a custom-designed ATM wrap, topper signage and onscreen marketing messages--on the other hand, are significantly less expensive, are placed on an ATM in the community served by the financial institution and are designed to last five years."

At less than $400 a terminal, the one-time fee for an ATM wrap equates to less than half a cent per user for an ATM with an average of 1,000 transactions a month, Ettesvold said.

SourceLink teams with N.J.s Professional Services Group

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CHICAGO (1/27/12)--SourceLink, a customer relationship management and direct marketing firm, will work with Professional Services Group (PSG), a subsidiary of the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL), to help New Jersey's credit unions attract new members through SourceLink's propriety Account Generator System (AGS) prospecting tool.

SourceLink was recently named a preferred vendor by PSG.

The Account Generator System is a program of personalized, cyclical direct mailings to members and prospective members driven by analytics.

"New Jersey's credit unions are greatly positioned to gain significant market share," said Evan Childs, SourceLink director of development. "We have had tremendous success with credit unions and AGS. The solution currently drives the new membership marketing and acquisition efforts for numerous credit unions across the nation."

Credit unions have to capitalize on the current market opportunity to attract more consumers, said Paul Gentile, NJCUL president/CEO. "SourceLink can help credit unions better target new members and build strong relationships with existing members."

Harland Clarke announces new standard in check packaging

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SAN ANTONIO (1/26/12)--Harland Clarke Corp., a provider of marketing services, and payment and security solutions to financial institutions, has introduced a new check-packaging system that will replace its traditional checkbox.

The company has also introduced a website to support the new system.

Harland Clarke is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The new system, CheckFolio, aligns multiple checkbooks in a slim, compact folio, designed to allow consumers to more conveniently receive, store and access personal checks.

Harland Clarke said the design was the result of nationwide consumer testing and client feedback, including focus groups, online video surveys, surveys on check use, storage  and security and identity protection research. Harland Clarke further validated the consumer research with financial institutions.

"As we talked to consumers, we learned that they wanted more than what the standard checkbox offered," said Gwen Cuffie, Harland Clarke vice president of product solutions and marketing. "So we took an 'outside-the-box' approach and developed a new system that delivers a better account holder experience."

Harland Clarke said CheckFolio addresses three key needs consumers expressed about check packaging:

  1. Organization: All CheckFolio components are packaged together, for easy access and storage
  2. Security: CheckFolio is delivered in a slim, tamper-evident wrap, designed for discreet storage.
  3. Environmental Efficiency: The design of CheckFolio uses less material, creates less waste and is recyclable.
CheckFolio also provides consumers with options on how they  can use their checks: They can choose to leave their checkbooks in place and write their checks. Or they can remove a checkbook (typically packaged in books of 25 personalized checks) as needed and place it in a regular individual checkbook cover.

"We know that checks remain an important aspect of personal banking and that consumers are increasingly seeking ways to organize and simplify their checking activities," said Dan Singleton, Harland Clarke president and chief operating officer. "CheckFolio enables financial institutions to meet these needs in an innovative way and consumers are giving our clients credit for being forward-thinking and caring about their account holders."

Catalyst Corporate launches mobile solution

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PLANO, Texas (1/26/12)--Catalyst Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas, will introduce mobile banking services for its members.

The mobile solution offered by Catalyst Corporate allows credit union members to check balances, review transaction history and make internal transfers their smartphone devices. Credit union account holders also can make mobile check deposits by photographing the front and back of checks with their smartphones.

The service is currently compatible with iPhone and Android technologies--with plans to extend the services additional smartphone providers, said the corporate.

Catalyst Corporate's mobile solution also offers these features for its member credit unions:

  • A fully functional service that integrates with each credit union's core systems;
  • A customizable platform that can incorporate branding;
  • An emphasis on analytics and member satisfaction measurements through surveys; and
  • Access to marketing materials that can build product awareness and interest.
 

The core components of Catalyst Corporate's mobile solutions can be adopted to meet the individual needs of its credit unions, the corporate said. Catalyst Corporate offers stand-alone mobile banking; mobile banking with mobile check deposit; stand-alone mobile check deposit, and mobile check deposit that integrates with a credit union's existing mobile banking product.

CUTEK Skip-a-Pay helps members weather economy

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MURRIETA, Calif. (1/26/12)--Financial technology services provider and consultant CUTEK Inc. has introduced a custom interface for skip-a-pay transactions. 

CUTEK's interface displays all eligible member loans and warnings on their account to show if the member qualifies for skip-a-pay. Members who qualify can click on the loan(s) they would like to skip for a particular month and hit "process." Skip-a-Pay looks at each loan "skipped" and recalculates the date when the next payment is due.

CUTEK's Skip-a-Pay also allows credit unions to track member skips throughout the year, whether they were once a year or every six months. The credit union can create a "skip report" for its records and the member.

"Obviously, this service is really popular for the holidays and summer vacations," says CUTEK President Ron Murray. "But we have found that it has been used more and more since the economy has had its challenges, allowing members who may be in a bind to free up cash once or twice a year to use for extra spending money."

CO-OP Fin. Services FSCC sign final merger paperwork

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/25/12)--CO-OP Financial Services and Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC) have finalized their merger, initially announced in September, the companies said Tuesday.

"It is very gratifying to note that with the conclusion of our agreement, all the major pieces of the credit union movement's decades-old shared branching initiative have been brought together," said Stan Hollen, president/chief operating officer of FSCC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching. "Now under the CO-OP Shared Branching business line are FSCC and the operations of Service Centers Corp. and Credit Union Service Corp. 

Sarah Canepa Bang, who previously served as CEO of FSCC, will continue as president and chief operating officer of FSCC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching, the company said. Craig Beach will serve as president/chief operating officer of CO-OP subsidiary Credit Union Service Corp.

More than 1,700 credit unions nationwide participate in shared branching, making more than 4,400 physical branch locations available to their members, plus 2,200 Vcom kiosk locations at 7-Eleven stores.

CU Members Mortgage excelled in year of challenges

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DALLAS (1/25/11)--During 2011 CU Members Mortgage added 43 new credit union clients, hired 15 new staffers, partnered with Mortgagebot to offer a new online mortgage resource application, and actively managed several new regulations that were imposed on the mortgage lending industry.

"As we faced the new regulation changes in regards to appraisals last year, our correspondent department adjusted its processes and technology for  Uniform Appraisal Dataset and  Uniform Collateral Data Portal compliance," said Linda Clampitt, CU Members Mortgage senior vice president. "This was challenging; however, we worked with our credit union partners very closely to work through the logistics and provided a resource to make it smooth and affordable, and to move forward."

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) business also changed dramatically in 2011, Clampitt said. The Department of Housing and Urban Development removed its mini-eagle approval and left only two options for offering FHA loans: Full-Eagle or Third-Party Originator. Since most credit unions do not have Full Eagle authority, they had to find a partner to work with them to provide the low-down-payment FHA loan option.

Dallas-based CU Members Mortgage also launched an online mortgage application with partner Mortgagebot. The addition has increased approved applications by 40%. More than 45,000 website visits have taken place since Oct. 4, with more than 6,000 rate searches.  

With regulatory changes and redefined roles in mortgage lending, CU Members Mortgage has rewritten specific contracts with its credit union clients. This effort is designed to protect the credit union and CU Members Mortgage as both parties venture through the lending environment, said the company.

The burden of increased regulation required more staff, Clampitt said. "Our focus is to educate during these times of change, as credit unions must know how to participate in providing home loans to meet the demands of members," she added.

FTSI launches service for CUs small banks

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MONROVIA, Calif. (1/24/12)--ATM provider FTSI is debuting six new professional services for credit unions and community banks.

The new services are:

  • Currency Management Solution. FTSI's currency management solution anticipates and monitors cash demand and balance costs involved with the cash supply chain.
  • Vault Cash Verification. FTSI's Vault Cash Verification service is an independent review to validate the accuracy of the reported balance of cash inventory, identify potential discrepancies and reduce the risk of cash loss.
  • Mobile Banking Solution. FTSI has partnered with mSHIFT and other industry leaders to deploy mobile banking. FTSI's solution features a quick configuration, with no hardware or information technology resources--helping financial institutions to go to market within 90 days.
  • ATM Marketing Hosted Solution. Through the support of NCR's hosted services infrastructure, FTSI offers a hosted ATM marketing solution for delivering advertising campaigns.
  • Check21 ATM Solution. FTSI's Check21 ATM Solution software is customizable to each financial institution
  • RiskWatch IT Assessments. In partnership with RiskWatch International, FTSI offers software designed to assist with ensuring that information technology infrastructure and ATM networks are in full compliance with regulations.

LemmonTree wins four awards for CUs marketing

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TEMPE, Ariz. (1/23/12)--LemmonTree Marketing Group was recognized for its work on behalf of credit union clients in four different categories by the 2011 MarCom Awards of the Association of Marketing & Communication Professionals.

Awards received by LemmonTree Marketing Group include:

  • A Gold Award in the Television Single Spot category for the "I'm a Patriot" TV commercial for Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa.
  • A Gold Award in the Design/Annual Report category for the 2010 annual report for Fort Campbell FCU, Clarksville, Tenn.
  • An Honorable Mention in the Strategic Communications/Marketing Promotion Campaign/Branding category for branding elements for Liberty Savings FCU, Jersey City, N.J.
  • An honorable mention in the Direct Marketing/Ads/Banner Sign category for the retail branch cabinet banner for Fort Campbell FCU.

CU Resources expands partnership with Harland Clarke

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/23/12)--Credit Union Resources has expanded its endorsement relationship with Harland Clarke to bring five new solutions to credit unions throughout Texas.

Harland Clarke is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

New offerings include:

  • Mystery Shopping Services--Professionally trained shoppers conduct customized multichannel evaluations in branch, by phone and online, to provide insight so credit unions can ensure their brand experience is delivered to their expectations.
  • Statement Solutions--Harland Clarke's print and electronic statement solutions are designed to transform account statements into personalized member communications that support marketing strategies.
  • ContentBase--An e-marketing tool that combines content with a best-practices approach to strategic consulting to help credit unions design and deliver e-mail communications.
  • Consumer ID Protection--Consumer identity protection solutions strengthen relationships, while generating a new revenue stream for credit unions.
  • Person-to-Person Payment Service (P2P)--Harland Clarke's secure network for P2P electronic payments offers account holders security and convenience while keeping credit unions in the center of the transaction.

CUAnswers launches virtual CIO services

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (1/20/12)--CU*Answers, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based credit union service organization, has launched a new virtual chief information officer (CIO) service.

The new service, called AdvantageCIO, assists credit unions with strategic level technology planning, budgeting and management.

Services offered include executive and board-level strategic technology planning sessions, technology budgeting and forecasting, technology assessments, information systems risk assessments, information technology policy development, business continuity planning, technical resource development and coaching.

The offerings are designed to be used on demand when needed. Long-term contracts are not required, but are available.

CU*Answers has seen a need for services on demand said, Matt Sawtell, CU*Answers assistant vice president of managed network technology solutions. "We deliver specific materials and well-documented plans so our clients have an actionable document they can take forward into their board rooms for long range business planning," he said.

PCUA partners with AdvantEDGE

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/20/12)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has partnered with AdvantEDGE Financial Services LLC, Wyomissing, Pa. The association has also selected AdvantEDGE as one of its preferred business partners.

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has formed a partnership with credit union service organization AdvantEDGE Financial Services LLC, Wyomissing, Pa. From left, Mary Ann George, AdvantEDGE manager; Patricia Zyma, AdvantEDGE president/treasurer; John Kilduff, PCUA vice president, credit union services; Glen Yeager, AdvantEDGE board chairman; and Russell Evans, PCUA assistant vice president business development. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
AdvantEDGE, a credit union service organization and subsidiary of Utilities Employees CU (UECU), specializes in serving credit union needs in areas such as asset recovery strategy, compliance with financial regulations, investment portfolio consultation and information technology specific to the credit union industry. 

"As the state trade association representing credit unions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, our goal is to help credit unions thrive," said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO. "Through our service corporation, PCUA is able to partner with businesses that offer products and services to enhance the ability of credit unions to serve their members. We've had a long relationship with UECU, so this partnership is a natural fit as credit union cooperatives."

AdvantEDGE also provides consulting services and custom solutions for credit unions in the areas of consumer and real estate lending, internal finance, asset recovery and investments.

CUSO helps Affinity Plus sell 140M in mortgages

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DENVER (1/20/12)--Mortgage Liquidity Solutions LLC (MLS), a multi-credit union owned credit union service organization (CUSO), has sold a $140 million portfolio of residential first mortgage loans using a loan participation structure for $1.5 billion asset Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn.

Created in 2011, MLS provides liquidity solutions to credit unions and CUSOs for their residential mortgage lending programs.

The company assists credit unions with the sale of loan pools and provides liquidity via warehouse lines of credit to fund the sale of loans to approved take-out investors.

CSS renews expands alliance with Newtek

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MADISON, Wis. (1/19/12)--CUNA Strategic Services Inc. (CSS) has renewed and expanded its relationship with The Small Business Authority, powered by Newtek Business Services, to include health and benefit insurance products.

Since 2003, CSS has worked with The Small Business Authority to provide small business services. Now, credit union small-business members will have access to group health, life, group accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), short-term disability (STD), long-term disability (LTD), dental and vision, as well as individual and family health.

"Credit unions can meet an important need of their small-business members through this new suite of health and benefits products," said Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association and CSS. "Our long-standing alliance with The Small Business Authority provides an ideal platform for credit unions and small businesses to be successful."

The strategic alliance relationship includes products such as small-business loans, credit- and debit-card processing services, Web-hosting services, connectivity, data storage, security, network infrastructure, business tax services, Web-based payroll services, and accounts receivable financing.

"This is probably the most important product and service offering that we will be involved with in 2012, and working with CSS as well as credit unions to solve their members' issues surrounding health insurance is an honor and a challenge," said Barry Sloane  CEO/chairman of the The Small Business Authority. "Never before have credit union members and Americans been so challenged to protect their health and families."

CMG MIs Ez Decisioning accepts GSE loans for coverage

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SAN FRANCISCO (1/19/12)--CMG Mortgage Insurance Co. (CMG MI), a provider of private mortgage guaranty insurance, has launched EZ Decisioning, a new set of program guidelines.

Conforming mortgage loans that meet the EZ Decisioning criteria and have received a valid Desktop Underwriter Approve/Eligible, Desktop Underwriter Expanded Approval/Eligible or a Loan Prospector Accept/Eligible are eligible for CMG MI mortgage insurance coverage.

EZ Decisioning program features some expanded eligibility guidelines, dropping credit scores to 620 for loan-to-value (LTV) ratios less than or equal to 95%.  Borrower contributions have been eliminated for borrowers with credit scores of 720 and above. 

"By aligning this program with the government-sponsored enterprises approval process, we anticipate greater efficiencies for our customers and ourselves," said CMG MI Kim Shaul, senior vice president and general manager.

CU Centers Shared Branching grew in 2011

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INDIANAPOLIS (1/19/12)--Shared branching network Credit Union Centers grew by 10% in 2011, adding 31 new branches in its primary market of Indiana and Illinois and 434 branches nationwide.

Members of the network now have access to more than 300 Indiana and Illinois branches, which includes 4,444 national locations.

Among the new clients that joined Credit Union Centers shared branching network in 2011:

  • CEFCU, $4.4 billion assets, Peoria, Ill.;
  • Southwest Chicago (Ill.) Chapter CU, $19 million;
  • Chicago (Ill.) Patrolmen's FCU, $355 million; and
  • Members Choice CU, $110 million, Peoria.
 

The additional credit unions represent a 30% increase in assets of Credit Union Centers participants. Along with adding new locations and increased assets last year, Credit Union Centers grew the number of members it serves to more than 2.05 million, an increase of 15%.

CU Direct Corp. lending conference announced

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ONTARIO, Calif. (1/19/12)--CU Direct Corp., a credit union service organization and parent company for CUDL, Lending Insights, Lending 360 and CUDL Retail brands, will hold its 14th annual conference May 16-17 in Chicago.

The lending conference's speaker line-up includes keynotes by Brett King, best-selling author of BANK 2.0, strategic adviser to the global financial services industry and founder and chairman of Movenbank, and Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute.

The event will include educational sessions covering industry topics such as business intelligence, portfolio management, credit union efficiencies, marketing, risk management and compliance.

CU is first FI in Oregon to offer Kasasa banking

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ST. HELENS, Ore. (1/18/12)--St. Helens (Ore.) Community FCU has become the first financial institution in Oregon to launch Kasasa banking, a brand of free banking accounts that pays members to use their account with what interests them most--high interest or digital downloads from iTunes or Amazon.com.

"Kasasa  delivers what research shows people really want but believe they can't have--great financial products with the personal service of a community based financial institution," said Jeff Schwarz, president/CEO at St. Helens Community FCU.

The $161 million asset credit union is offering two Kasasa financial products:

  • Kasasa Cash, a free checking account that pays high interest for every month the account holder qualifies; and
  • KasasaTunes, a free checking account that rewards consumers with digital downloads from iTunes or Amazon when they qualify.
The products are free, reward-based accounts, with no minimum balance required to earn the rewards, no monthly service fees, free online banking and other convenience services and worldwide ATM fee refunds.

To receive Kasasa account benefits, each monthly qualification cycle, accountholders are asked to enroll to a few simple things such as enroll to receive eStatements, use a debit card a minimum number of times, and have an electronic transaction such as direct deposit or automatic debit post and clear their account.

In 2009, Kasasa was piloted in six other U.S. markets. In the first two months, participating community financial institutions reported growth rates up to 150% on new account openings and 372% in deposits at institutions focused on deposit growth.

Alloya VSoft now item-processing partners

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WARRENSVILLE, Ill., and DULUTH, Ga. (1/18/12)--Alloya Corporate FCU and VSoft Corp. have entered into a strategic partnership to outsource the Warrensville, Ill.-based corporate's back-office item-processing services to VSoft. The partnership will become effective Feb. 5.

"Alloya will benefit from reduced operating costs and improved net product margins, reduced facilities expenses, and a deepened partnership with a best of breed company in the item processing space," said Charles W. Furbee, acting CEO at Alloya. He noted that VSoft's willingness  to hire the employees affected by the transaction  was an important consideration in the decision.

The transaction "perfectly illustrates our go-forward strategy of partnering with quality companies to provide value added services to our members on an aggregated basis, rather than Alloya manufacturing [the services] itself," Furbee said.

In addition to hiring the current item processing staff at Alloya, VSoft will sublet space in the corporate's Albany, N.Y., facility to house them, said Murthy Veeraghanta, managing director and CEO of VSoft.

The transaction means VSoft will acquire a stable and knowledgeable staff to provide ongoing service to credit unions while supplying a platform to grow the business, VSoft said.  VSoft  will be able to leverage its relationship with the corporate to bring future products to credit unions, while providing "a profitable platform from which to serve others in the marketplace," said Veeraghanta.

EasCorps Vertifi RDC service surpasses 200K users

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BURLINGTON, Mass. (1/17/12)--DeposZip, Eastern Corporate FCU subsidiary Vertifi Software's proprietary remote-deposit capture (RDC) service for households and businesses, now has more than 200,000 registered users from 76 participating credit unions nationwide.

With DeposZip, consumers and businesses can deposit checks to their credit union accounts from their homes or offices by using a desktop scanner and through downloadable applications for program-supported smartphones and tablet devices.

Vertifi announced the milestone just more than a year after reaching the 100,000 registered users plateau.

Company officials credited the milestone to DeposZip's cross-demographic and cross-channel versatility and ease of use.

To date, more than $1.4 billion has been deposited into member accounts through the DeposZip program.

2012 CUNA Economics and Investments Conference set

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MADISON, Wis. (1/17/12)--Registration and school information is now available for the 2012 CUNA Economics and Investments Conference, Aug. 12-15 in Chicago, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). 

The CUNA Economics and Investments Conference explores the current economy and tomorrow's economic future.

Bill Hampel, CUNA senior vice president of research and policy analysis and chief economist, and Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, will analyze the U.S. economy, explain what the details are, why they are important and how they will impact credit unions in the coming fiscal year.

Attendees will hear CUNA economists speak about:

  • The key players that shape the U.S. economy;
  • The practical tools for managing credit union finances;
  • Investment strategies that will keep credit unions competitive;
  • Asset-liability management techniques; and
  • Current regulatory issues affecting credit unions.
The CUNA CFO Council is offering scholarships, up to $2,500, for qualifying credit unions attending the CUNA Economics & Investments Conference. The deadline to apply is July 9.

cbanc Network grows from 500 to 3600 FIs in 2011

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AUSTIN, Texas (1/13/12)--cbanc Network, an online repository of financial institution-created, exam-tested content, grew 620% in 2011, expanding  to nearly 3,600 financial institutions from 500 a year earlier.

cbanc, members trade work from all areas of their credit union or bank--policies, procedures, agreements, best practices--in an online marketplace. Members also report insights from recent exams, write reviews of vendors, and provide answers to peer questions.

The incentive is cbanc's points/rewards system, which provides a free market for the content that members post. The more content, experiences, and advice users share, the more points they earn toward the purchase of the information they share.

Much of the site's growth--70%--came direct from Google, with financial institutions searching for solutions from specific pain points, such as "ACH Risk Assessment," and Google returning user-generated content from cbanc high up in its search results, according to Myers Dupuy, cbanc president.

"Clearly, 2011's tremendous growth solidifies the need for this type of content collaboration within the financial services industry," Dupuy said. "We have become a reflection of industry needs--and that can be seen on a real-time basis by reporting on community activity. The behavior of our users reveals today's pressure points on the banks and credit unions, such as Dodd-Frank, ACH risk changes, and new technologies like mobile banking."

Diebold signs purchase agreement

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (1/13/12)--Diebold has signed a purchase agreement for a site for its new global headquarters campus.

Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The agreement includes 55 acres of land in Green, Ohio. Diebold also would hold the right of first refusal to an additional 36 acres of land surrounding the site. 

Finalization of the site is contingent upon several steps that will occur during the coming months, including environmental and land testing, site pre-planning, necessary approvals from the State of Ohio, council approval from the City of Green, and local school board approvals.

If the land passes environmental inspections and site due diligence activities and the project receives local, state, and federal government approvals, Diebold anticipates finalizing the site selection process during the second half of this year and breaking ground sometime in 2013.

Initial plans call for a 500,000 square-foot building, which is expected to be completed two to three years after breaking ground.

DigitalMailer SocialLogix join on social media compliance

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HERNDON, Va. and ROSEVILLE, Calif. (1/13/12)--DigitalMailer, a provider of digital communication solutions to the financial institution industry, will be the exclusive partner for the delivery of SocialSentry, SocialLogix's social media tracking solution under an agreement reached between the two companies.

SocialSentry addresses the risks of social communication through its granular, real-time tracking of social media communication, the companies said.

The social media tool identifies and monitors employee communication from any location, within the company network or the Internet. SocialSentry also can monitor select users or an entire employee base and archive all social media communication for future analysis or e-discovery.

Because SocialSentry is a software-as-a-service offering, it can be deployed by credit unions of all sizes.

CUAnswers offers core processing suite for CU Mortgage Direct

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (1/12/12)--CU*Answers has released CU*BASE  Servicer Edition (SE), a new core-processing suite targeted at vendors and credit union service organizations (CUSOs) that service specialized member products for credit unions across multiple core processing environments.

CU*Answers is partnering with Sioux Empire FCU, Sioux Falls, S.D., to unveil CU*BASE SE for its mortgage CUSO CU Mortgage Direct LLC (CUMD).

"CUSOs are everywhere today, servicing mortgages, business loans, credit card portfolios, even investments," said Randy Karnes, CU*Answers CEO. "They've done a great job at manufacturing process, markets, and aggregate groups of credit unions. But far too often they are only the customers of third-party software solutions, and have not gotten into developing direct solutions that could support their CUSO for years to come. We hope to partner with CUMD and these kinds of CUSOs in developing new technologies and evolving some of the solutions used in our network today."

CU*Answers also said that CU*BASE SE will launch with solutions targeted at servicing mortgages and credit card accounts. It will include back-office core processing for the CUSO staff and Web-based solutions--including online banking and mobile web banking--provided directly to members. 

"For a CUSO to be successful, it needs to be more than just a one-trick pony when it comes to driving member activity," said Karnes. "It needs a servicing solution that can reach every channel, that includes direct marketing outreach to members, and that has a full set of technology solutions that can build a network of its credit union customers."

Karnes hinted that a new CUSO is in the works that would allow servicing CUSOs to be partners and customers.

TMG reports 25 growth in holiday gift card sales

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DES MOINES, Iowa (1/11/12)--The Members Group (TMG) grew sales of its ATIRAgift cards 25% during the 2011 holiday season, compared to the same period last year.

TMG added 32 prepaid clients in 2011, of which 29 market the company's open-loop Visa gift cards.

Konrad Christensen, who leads the retail payments team for TMG, said many of those clients have have put forth high-quality, targeted marketing campaigns to successfully reach likely gift-card buyers in their individual markets.

"Over time, consumers have come to recognize the open-loop gift card as not only an option, but the better option, when compared to closed-loop cards," said Christensen, TMG's retail payments product manager.

The average dollar amount loaded to ATIRAgift cards remained unchanged at roughly $82.50 during the 2010 and 2011 holiday seasons.

MnIPC ownership consolidated restructured

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/11/12)--Check processor MnIPC has redeemed its stock from Minnesota credit unions and transferred complete ownership to the Network Service Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).

A stock offering was introduced to raise capital for the purchase of equipment and to build the infrastructure necessary for the business.

The MnIPC Corp. was originally formed in 1994 to provide credit unions a cost-effective check processing alternative. Since the original stock subscription, MnIPC has experienced consistent growth and success, posting a profit for 15 consecutive years, the company said.

"Over the years, MnIPC has consistently provided excellent member service and innovation, which has led to the evolution of the high-tech, high-touch organization it is today," said John Ferstl, MnCUN vice president of Network Service Corp.

Diebold demos worlds first 4G LTE ATM concept

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (1/11/12)--Diebold will demonstrate the first ATM concept that uses 4G technology this week at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

In collaboration with Verizon, operator of the largest 4G network in the U.S., Diebold integrated 4G LTE technology to create a new, additional channel for communication to and from the ATM. Traditionally, the ATM has communicated only with the financial institution or the transaction processor. With the addition of the 4G LTE channel, the ATM also can communicate directly with third parties such as service providers or monitoring centers.

A 4G LTE connection could provide financial institutions with the bandwidth to connect to the ATM wirelessly.

The 4G LTE-enabled ATM could potentially expand communications between self-service terminals and the companies that service them, Diebold said. By enabling direct communication to service providers, the ATM could deliver more robust service-related data than providers receive today.

4G connectivity also could enable the ATM to communicate directly with a monitoring center without relying on an external alarm panel. This would facilitate faster assessment and dispatch if an ATM is attacked, Diebold said.

Also, the 4G connection could be paired with video and audio capabilities to enable direct communication through wireless two-way video between the ATM user and the financial institution during the self-service transaction.

TDECU Insurance buys another company

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LAKE JACKSON, Texas (1/10/12)--TDECU Insurance Agency LLC, Lake Jackson, Texas, has acquired Houston-based Associated Insurance Agency Inc.

TDECU Insurance is well-positioned to continue to grow market share in southeast Texas with TDECU's recent acquisition of two Houston-based credit unions, the company said. The insurance agency is a wholly owned subsidiary of TDECU.

TDECU completed mergers with $60 million San Jacinto Area CU and $80 Bluebonnet CU in late 2011.

Associated Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency that has served the Houston business community for 17 years.

"The acquisition of Associated Insurance Agency is an ideal fit for our growth strategy," remarked Timothy Belton, TDECU Insurance CEO.

Associated Insurance Agency currently represents more than 15 nationally recognized carriers.

TCI sells background screening credit access units

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HAUPPAGE, N.Y. (1/10/12)--TCI, Hauppage, N.Y., has sold its background screening and credit accessing portal products to SS&C Technologies Holdings Inc., Windsor, Conn.

TCI said it made the sale so it can concentrate on its loan origination solution--DecisionLender--which generated the majority of its revenue in 2011.

SS&C, a global provider of financial services software and software-enabled services, added AddressScreener, CreditScreener, My Credit Screener, Tenant/Employment Screener and FraudScreener to its existing services.

TCI was founded in 1982 as a distributor of Telex terminals, a teleprinter used for business communications. With the evolution of the digital communication age, TCI began offering Internet-based products or software as a service.

Today, more than 300 financial institutions, including credit unions, are using DecisionLender, a loan origination solution that manages workflow, pulls credit reports and analyzes applications.

DataVerify Prime Alliance Solutions offer risk-mitigation platform

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COLUMBUS, Ohio and EDINA, Minn. (1/9/12)--DataVerify, a provider of fraud and risk management solutions, and Prime Alliance Solutions Inc., a provider of mortgage lending solutions for credit unions, have partnered to offer DataVerify's enterprise-wide risk mitigation DRIVE platform.

As a result, client credit unions will have access to DataVerify's 4506T and SSA verification and identity, application and property verification services through Prime Alliance's Lending Suite.

The crux of DataVerify's technological advantage is its DRIVE platform--an enterprise-wide, loan-level data integrity and risk mitigation system that is fully customizable.

Newtek sells second round of small biz loan securitizations

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NEW YORK (1/9/12)--Newtek Business Services, The Small Business Authority, has completed the securitization and sale of an additional $20.5 million of non-guaranteed portions of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) small-business loans. 

The Small Business Authority, Powered by Newtek, is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The transaction was made possible through an amendment to the securitization of $23 million in loans that closed in December 2010. The sale of the additional trust notes was handled by Guggenheim Securities, LLC, which advised Newtek.

Newtek has been active in small-business lending and, with the latest transaction, it will have completed the securitization of about $43.5 million of non-guaranteed portions of SBA small business loans within the past 12 months. 

Standard and Poor's has rated the securitization trust notes as AA, based on the collateral in the entire, upsized pool.

TMG CO-OP Fin. Services in payments solution alliance

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DES MOINES, Iowa, and RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/9/12)--Credit union payments providers The Members Group (TMG) and CO-OP Financial Services have formed a strategic partnership, with CO-OP making a strategic investment in TMG.

TMG and CO-OP Financial Services will continue to offer products under their own brands, operate independently and work within their existing management structures. At the same time, both companies will cross-sell all of their respective products and services.

The alliance means the two companies serve more than 40% of U.S. credit unions and provide payment services to nearly 33 million cardholders.

TMG and CO-OP Financial Services both provide core payment products, including credit, debit, ATM, prepaid products and person-to-person (P2P) payment solutions. Both companies are credit union-owned.

TMG also brings to the alliance a suite of proprietary card-data solutions, including Springboard and ClearTrend; Dwolla, a P2P payment solution; and other services. Through collaborative relationships with its sister companies, TMG also can offer Hispanic market expertise and regulatory compliance products and solutions.

CO-OP Financial Services brings additional services, such as CO-OP Network, CO-OP Shared Branching and CO-OP Member Center for lending and member-service call center support.

ICUL Service Corp. announces Discover Orange Bowl winners

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (1/6/12)--The Illinois Credit Union League Service Corporation (LSC) and Discover Financial Service recently partnered to offer a credit-card cross-selling contest for credit union employees. Eight winners have been announced.

The Illinois Credit Union League Service Corp. and Discover Financial Service recently sponsored the Discover Orange Bowl Employee Sales Contest, a cross-selling contest for credit union employees. Kristi Lockhart, left, business development manager, Discover Network, congratulates Connie Aldrich, branch supervisor for Potelco United CU, Inkhom, Idaho, who was the grand-prize winner of the contest. (Photo provided by Illinois Credit Union League)
Connie Aldrich, branch supervisor for Potelco United CU, Inkhom, Idaho, was the grand-prize winner of the Discover Orange Bowl Employee Sales Contest. Aldrich received a three-day/two-night trip for two to attend the Orange Bowl, which took place Wednesday.

"What motivated me was offering the best credit card service to our members and helping them with their new Discover card," said Aldrich. 

Aldrich was also one of the eight first prize winners awarded $300 each through a random drawing. Other first-prize winners included:

  • Sandy Patterson, C&O United CU, Edgewood, Ky.;
  • Bernice Cook, Potelco United CU;
  • Amanda Peterson, Potelco United CU;
  • Jean Taylor, Everyone's FCU, Tucumcari, N.M.;
  • Heather Sanchez, Everyone's FCU;
  • Rhonda Litt, Spirit of America CU, Lincoln, Neb.; and
  • Parese Hall, Maroon Financial CU, Chicago.
"It was a great opportunity to be knowledgeable about the products we are offering and what was the best fit for the member," Hall said. 

LSC offers Discover programs designed to help credit unions compete in the credit market.

2012 Discovery Webinar Series scheduled

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MADISON, Wis. (1/6/12)--Ed Meier, senior portfolio manager of MEMBERS Capital Advisors, will explore the fixed-income markets and discuss the future of the bond market during CUNA Mutual Group's first Discovery Webinar of 2012, "Fixed Income Markets in 2012: Implications of a Political Stalemate," at 12:15 p.m. (CT) Jan. 18.   

Other 2012 Discovery events and CUNA Mutual's presenters include:

  • Jan. 25--Equity Markets: Risk, Safety & Opportunity, presented by Jay Sekelsky;
  • March 14--Simplify Human Capital Management, presented by David Martin;
  • March 28--Firmly Balanced on the Edge: An Economic Update, presented by Dave Colby;
  • April 11--Mobile Lending: The Trends and Issues Impacting Your Credit Union, presented by John Putman;
  • April 18--Regulatory Compliance Update, presented by Bill Klewin;
  • May 2--Mobile Financial Services: The New Frontier, presented by Ann Davidson;
  • May 23--Member Business Lending: Get the Volume Without the Noise, presented by Brad Mundine;
  • June 17-20--Seventeen Discovery sessions will be offered at the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference in San Diego; and
  • Oct. 9--Third Annual Online Discovery Conference.

CUNA Volunteer Certification School grads honored

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MADISON, Wis. (1/5/12)--Forty-six credit union volunteers completed five days of lectures, overviews and testing to earn their Certified Credit Union Volunteer (CCUV) designation and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board Financial Literacy Certificate, CUNA announced Tuesday.

The CUNA Volunteer Certification School was created to provide credit union volunteers with practical education in all areas of credit union operations through live lectures, discussions and testing. The program creates a simplified approach to complex subjects and gets credit union volunteers up to speed on the information they need to know to serve their credit unions most effectively.

The CCUV designation symbolizes a thorough understanding of all areas and operations of the credit union. It can be earned by graduating from the CUNA Volunteer Certification School or completing the CUNA Volunteer Certification Program, a self-study education tool that features online learning modules.

In 2012, volunteers interested in obtaining their CCUV designation, can choose between the traditional classroom setting at the CUNA Volunteer Certification School, or a variety of self-study training options.

The 2012 CUNA Volunteer Certification School will be held Sept. 23-28 in Long Beach, Calif.

QR Lending acquired by Florida bank

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LAKE CITY, Fla. and MADISON, Wis. (1/5/12)--First Federal Bank of Florida, Lake City, Fla., has acquired Madison, Wis.-based QR Lending, a nationwide provider of residential mortgage services for credit unions and community banks.

Changes in the mortgage marketplace, including compliance and regulatory burdens brought on by the Dodd-Frank Act and new state licensing requirements, led QR Lending to seek an acquisition partner, said Tom Pisapia, QR Lending executive vice president.

QR Lending is now a division of First Federal Bank of Florida, and is led by the existing QR Lending executive team.

With assets of more than $950 million, First Federal Bank of Florida serves 50,000 customers from at branches and several lending centers in Florida.

CUNA Passageways release board portal case study

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MADISON, Wis. (1/5/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has released a new case study exclusively available on the CUNA Volunteer Network.

The case study examines the use of Passageways online board portals by three credit unions worldwide. Passageways is an exclusive CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The case study demonstrates how online portals are revolutionizing the way credit unions communicate with their boards. Highlighting Michigan Schools and Government CU, Clinton Township, Mich.; Barbados Public Workers/Co-operative CU Limited, St. Michael, Barbados; and Johns Hopkins FCU, Baltimore, the case study illustrates how the board portals have benefitted each credit union and improved board relations.

Using board portals, credit union directors and volunteers secure online access to board packets and other materials quickly and panper-free. Portals also provide board members a forum for discussions, polling, sharing calendars and more, while reducing overall administrative time.

"This new study outlines the advancements online forums have made to the credit union movement as a whole," said Kevin Smith, CUNA director of volunteer education. "Advancements in online technology have made it easier for secure materials to be shared safely, immediately and effectively, guaranteeing that credit union volunteers have all the materials they need, when they need them."

The CUNA Volunteer Network keeps its members informed and connected to their credit union peers by providing exclusive access to current industry news and research, case studies, a list serv  of peers, board training courses, discounts on educational opportunities and more.

WESCO teams up with Chatter Yak on social media site

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (1/4/12)--WESCO Net, a network solutions integrator and division of the credit union service organization (CUSO) CU*Answers, has partnered with Chatter Yak! to host a new social media marketing website, ChatterYak.com.

Chatter Yak!, a CUSO started by Vacationland FCU in Sandusky, Ohio, specializes in online and social-marketing services such as Facebook and Twitter campaigns.

WESCO Net deployed a customized solution using its virtualized cloud environment--a solution scalable to meet client demand, and capable of ramping up on demand to handle surges in traffic.

ChatterYak.com required a solution that would grow with client demand, according to the two companies. Security was also a high priority due to the financial nature of the site.

Security is handled through a standard encryption technology and layered network- and application-aware firewalls.