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CUNA Volunteer Institute set for Punta Cana

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MADISON, Wis. (12/1/11)--Registration and school information is now available for the 2012 CUNA Volunteer Institute, May 6-9 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

From legislation and liabilities to board motivation, volunteers will explore a curriculum designed to increase their impact in the boardroom. The institute, presented by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), is designed for volunteers looking to increase their knowledge while connecting with peers.

Attendees will hear from credit union experts on these topics:

  • CEO oversight--What's the right formula?
  • Secrets of an effective board chair;
  • Motivating board volunteers and bringing fun to the boardroom;
  • Today's economy and the risks for your credit union; and
  • Directors who make a difference
"The wealth of information provided at this institute goes a long way in improving board member performance and strengthening the credit union movement as a whole," said Kevin Smith, CUNA director of volunteer education. "The efforts of these volunteers set high standards for their credit union staff and help demonstrate to their members their dedication to their credit unions."

CO-OP Fin. Services THINK Conference heads East

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (12/1/30)--The THINK 12 Conference, produced annually by CO-OP Financial Services, will take place April 29-May 2 in Boca Raton--the first THINK Conference to be held on the east coast.

"CO-OP seeks to help our clients maximize their profitability and enhance member relationships, and the THINK Conference will offer a wealth of ideas for attendees on how they can do both," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO.

Since 2008, the THINK Conferences have been led by thought leaders such as Steve Wozniak of Apple and Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com, who challenged attendees to look at credit union problem solving from a fresh angle.

The 2012 Conference will feature two returnees from the 2011 event: Financial journalist Valerie Coleman Morris will again be the master of ceremonies, while Brett King, author of the best-seller BANK 2.0, will be among the speakers. Additional speakers will be announced later.

Also returning to the THINK Conference is the CO-OP THINK Prize, a competition introduced this year to inspire creative solutions to industry issues. The competition is down to 25 semi-finalists, with three finalists to be announced in early 2012. The winner will be awarded $10,000.

CO-OP Financial Services provides network, payment processing, e-commerce, shared branching and call center services, including a network of 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

Bluepoint launches ImagePoint Mailroom Check 21 service

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VISTA, Calif. (11/30/11)--Bluepoint Solutions, a provider of remote deposit capture, item processing and enterprise content management solutions, has launched a mailroom processing solution that complies with Check 21 rules.

The latest addition to the ImagePoint suite, ImagePoint Mailroom, allows financial institutions to capture and electronically process both deposits and remittances, including credit card, mortgage, auto and other loan payments, received in the mailroom.

Bluepoint's ImagePoint Mailroom application software is a service-based, automated processing tool designed to scan, sort, apply and split remittances and deposits; validate the data;  and export it for clearing, posting and archiving. The Web-based application operates in a cloud environment with no local software to install or maintain.            

"Financial institutions of all sizes need to constantly evaluate new technologies that help them improve productivity, particularly in payments processing," said Hal Tilbury, Blue point CEO and founder. "Back-office remittance and deposits are areas where financial institutions of all sizes can leverage the benefits of electronic processing to lower costs and boost efficiencies."

Bluepoint's ImagePoint Mailroom application interacts directly with the institution's existing host system, loading all current, expected receipts--plus all current account information. Operators perform a pre-sort and then scan remittances, which the system matches to the expected receipts and account information, presenting unmatched items to the operator in an automated queue for review.

Upon completion, the system generates a cash letter file to be included with all other items for clearing and archival, and a posting file that goes back to the host system and/or to separate accounting systems.

CUs managing WAN performance with IT Analytics

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CHICAGO (11/30/11)--RISC Networks, a provider of business technology analytics, will host a webinar on managing wide-area network (WAN) performance at 12 p.m. (ET) today.

Recent membership growth has put increased pressure on credit union information systems, said the company. One of the most important affected areas is wide-area networks. During the webinar, "Build Your Roadmap to Successful WAN Performance," Jeremy Littlejohn, chief analyst of RISC Networks, will provide a step-by-step overview for optimizing a network to withstand unforeseen growth issues.

RISC Networks uses IT Analytics, a system of analysis and data-reporting tools and services that provides data to help clients optimize the reliability, scalability and performance of their information technology infrastructure.

To optimize the network, organizations must first have a thorough understanding of the needs specific to the industry and the state of their particular network, Littlejohn said.

"Credit unions have a mix of real-time, near real-time, and background applications," he said. "In most environments we see, the background traffic is the biggest user of bandwidth and has the greatest one-to-one traffic growth with member-account increases.  Increases in membership mean increases in background traffic and impacts on member-facing services."

Credit unions attracted 700,000 new member accounts within a short period of time preceding the Nov. 5 Bank Transfer Day, according to the Credit Union National Association. That growth surpassed the 600,000 new members acquired during the entire year last year.

FY 2011 sales up for Xtend

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (11/29/11)--Xtend Inc. a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based multi-owned cooperative credit union service organization, reported a record performance for fiscal year 2011. 

Sales for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 totaled $1.52 million, surpassing the previous high of $1.33 million in 2010.

Overall sales grew 14.9% year-over-year, led by the CUSO's mortgage servicing and member reach business units, which were up 44% and 34%, respectively, from 2010 figures.

"There were signs all around us that the credit unions in our market space would continue to seek creative, innovative, and most importantly, cost-effective solutions in their front and back offices," said Scott Collins, Xtend president. "Whether it was due to increased regulatory activity, a struggling economy, competitive pressures or all of the above, we had to be ready to help the credit unions in our network respond to a very challenging marketplace."

Xtend provides managerial, operational, marketing, technical planning and consulting services for credit unions of all sizes.

BuzzBanking offers rewards platform

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AUSTIN, Texas (11/29/11)--Fisoc, a social media banking firm, has developed a web-centric platform that allows credit unions community and independent banks to offer rewards that benefit both their members/customers and merchants.

BuzzBanking allows financial institution members/customers to earn points on debit card purchases and earn additional points by telling their family and friends about their purchases.

BuzzBanking has been employed by financial institutions across the state of Texas, including Concho Educators FCU, San Angelo.

Fisoc will continue to roll out the program statewide.

"Consumer spending is at its peak during the holiday shopping season and these [financial institutions] now have an option to offer rewards points to their [member/customers] for their spending and extra points and for sharing BuzzBanking with their friends, " said Jay Valanju, fisoc CEO.

CUTEK creates custom account-closure interface

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MURRIETA, Calif. (11/28/11)--Financial technology services provider and consultant CUTEK Inc. has developed a customizable interface that walks  credit union members service representatives through the account closing process.

Each credit union can create its own list of reasons for account closures and scripts for employees to follow in attempting to retain members. Scripts can vary for each reason for closure.

For example, if the member tells the employees that a move is the reason for closure, the script can inform or remind the member about the electronic services offered via remote banking, according to Ray Pennisi, CUTEK  senior consultant. If the employee successfully "saves" the account from closure, the save can be noted on the account for the employee.

If the closure proceeds, the interface will automatically pay any required closing dividends, transfer the funds out of the account, close the account, and perform any other needed steps, such as capturing outstanding plastic and collecting a signature for the closure.

Verafin ranked 128 in Deloittes Tech Fast 500

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ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland (11/28/11)--Verafin Inc., a provider of compliance, anti-money laundering and fraud detection software, is ranked No. 128 on the Technology Fast 500, Deloitte's ranking of 500 of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America.

Rankings are based on percentage of fiscal year revenue growth from 2006 to 2010. Verafin grew 840% during the period.

Verafin is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

Verafin also was listed on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50, a ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Canada. Verafin's five-year revenue growth rate resulted in a ranking of 27.

"It is a confirmation of the hard work we have put into creating a progressive and leading-edge anti-fraud and anti-money laundering software product," said Brian Whiteway, Verafin chief financial officer.

CUNAs CPDOnline upgraded

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/11)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) CPDOnline training system has launched an upgraded learning management system and website.

"With invaluable input from our users, we have enhanced the CPDOnline training system to better serve credit unions' needs today and in the future," said Todd Spiczenski, vice president of CUNA's Center for Professional Development.

Serving nearly 30,000 credit union professionals, CUNA CPDOnline  provides more than 350 credit union-specific courses on topics including lending, member services, compliance and more. Its interactive online environment combines the freedom of independent education with the support and collaboration of a classroom setting.

Key enhancements to CUNA CPDOnline include:

  • Enhanced navigation: The streamlined navigation and a clean look makes it easier to access information and relevant news.
  • Improved communications: Users can send notifications to groups via e-mail with CUNA CPDOnline's new message center. With the new collaboration center, users can also engage in conversation, blend learning and post documents for collaborative learning.
  • Extended reporting capabilities: CUNA CPDOnline's new self-reported training function allows learners and managers to post to transcripts and include goals and additional training. Managers also can monitor the progress of their direct reports, keeping track of activities and assignments and follow on-the-job training. All of this can be done through new-scheduled or on-demand reporting.
  • More administrative options: Administrators can assign activities and assignments, including deadlines and reminder notifications. Users also can assign CUNA and credit union courses and control new notifications.

Akcelerant Grant and Weber offer integrated collections

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MALVERN, Pa. (11/22/11)--Ackcelerant, a provider of connected software technology to the financial services industry, has entered into a partnership with Grant & Weber, an account servicing and receivables management organization specializing in credit union collection services. 

As part of the agreement, new integration will be developed to allow joint customers convenient access to Grant & Weber services, including pre-charge-off account management, charge-off collection, risk and retention monitoring services directly through the Akcelerant Framework or Akcelerant Elements.

Grant & Weber will begin using the Akcelerant Framework to manage accounts within its own organization.

With their connectivity, Ackcelerant's product lines allows third-parties to integrate their existing products and services, creating an "all-in-one" software strategy. Akcelerant customers will be able to send and receive outsourced account information to and from Grant & Weber without leaving the Framework or Elements environment.

Also, the implementation of Framework at Grant & Weber will allow the company to work accounts as an extension of the credit union.

Yodlee Open Solutions launch personalized services

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REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (11/21/11)--Yodlee will integrate its personal financial management (PFM) platform with Open Solutions' DNAweb online banking solution in a partnership announced last week between the two firms.

The integration also will include the Yodlee FinApp Center, an online marketplace that allows financial institutions to choose financial apps to offer to their member/customers, from tax preparation to identity protection to investment management and more.

Financial institutions that use the Open Solutions platform will be able to offer Yodlee PFM tools and the FinApp Center through their own websites, starting in early 2012.

"Providing more flexible options in personal finance management adds tremendous value for online banking customers," said John Messier, vice president of product management at Open Solutions.

Open Solutions is a financial services technology provider that primarily serves credit unions and community banks.

Yodlee provides online personal financial management (PFM) and revenue-generating payments solutions.

Lending Insights reaches milestone in 2011

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ONTARIO, Calif. (11/21/11)--Lending Insights, a provider of analytical tools and business intelligence solutions to the credit unions, grew its client base to include 75 credit unions in 2011.

The company has increased its client base by more than 900% during the last three years, the company said.

"With today's highly competitive lending marketplace, coupled with continued uncertainty of today's economy and the necessity to comply with new industry regulations, our clients recognize the need to look closely at how they manage their lending programs and improve overall credit quality," said Mike James, Lending Insights chief operating officer. 

Lending Insights also announced it signed new partnership agreements with six credit unions. The credit unions include:

  • Western FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif., with $1.6 billion in assets;
  • PrimeWay FCU, Houston, with $392 million in assets;
  • Sierra Central CU, Yuba City, Calif., with $597 million in assets;
  • Freedom First FCU, Roanoke, Va., with $258 million in assets;
  • Members Cooperative CU, Cloquet, Minn., with $314 million in assets; and
  • Granite State CU, Manchester, N.H., with $283 million in assets.

CUs are pushing mortgage loans

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MADISON, Wis. (11/18/11)--While Bank Transfer Day and the weeks leading up to it brought credit unions 700,000 new members, credit unions must now take measures with other products and services on a long-term basis.

During September 2011, the sixth consecutive month of positive loan growth for credit unions, fixed-rate mortgages led loan growth with a 2.2% increase.

As the interest in mortgage loans grows, service providers are taking measures assist credit unions in offering their members mortgage services.

CU Members Mortgage, which provides mortgage services to credit unions, reported that it added 12 clients:

  • Georgia Heritage FCU, Savannah, Ga., $77 million in assets; 8,074 members;
  • Holy Family Memorial CU, Manitowoc, Wis., $12 million in assets;
  • LGE Community CU, Marietta, Ga., $814 million in assets;
  • Lincoln S.D.A. CU, Lincoln, Neb., $14 million in assets;
  • National 1st CU, Santa Clara, Calif., $188 million in assets;
  • Premier Lending Alliance, LLC, Des Moines, Iowa;
  • TCC CU, Dallas, $27 million in assets;
  • The Florist FCU, Roswell, N.M., $6 million in assets;
  • USX FCU, Cranberry, Pa., $188 million in assets;
  • Utah Central FCU, a division of Chartway FCU, Virginia Beach, Va., $1.8 billion in assets;
  • Victoria (Texas) FCU, $11 million in assets; and
  • Wauna FCU, Clatskanie, Ore., $140 million in assets.
Also, a mortgage software developer based in West Palm Beach, Fla., OpenClose has added a shortened loan application to its mortgage loan origination software. The new "short app" was developed to easily initiate the loan process or create a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

Rather than using the more complex 1003 form, employees untrained in the mortgage process can create a mortgage application using OpenClose's short app. The one-page, simplified loan application can be used for all non-realty collateral.

Meanwhile, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), a national wholesale mortgage lender, has released a proprietary decisioning solution within its broker portal for credit unions and other financial institutions. Custom developed in-house, Easy Qualifier (EQ) returns pricing and product eligibility on up to 10 mortgage programs.

EQ is integrated with Easiest Application System Ever (EASE), UWM's custom broker portal, a Web-based and pipeline management tool. EASE contains an automated pricing engine that provides pricing on eligible loans. The portal also allows for rate-locks, offers real-time status on conditions, provides communication with underwriters and provides visibility over the entire loan pipeline from submission to funding.

Mobile payment launched for immigrant workers

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PALO ALTO, Calif. (11/17/11)--Palo Alto, Calif.-based payments provider m-Via has launched a mobile payment network designed to provide immigrants with a low-cost, safe alternative to high-fee money transfer services.

The new payments system, called Boom, uses the member/customer's phone number to allow consumers to access and send funds via a text message.

Boom launch partners include 7-Eleven Inc., the Allpoint ATM Network, the Diconsa retail network in Mexico, and PayXchange. Through these partners, Boom members have access to more than 15,000 U.S. cash load locations, 23,000 Boom merchants in Mexico, and more than 150,000 Boom ATMs in the U.S. and Mexico, and another 650,000 ATMs in more than 150 countries.

"Traditional money transfer services are unsafe, expensive and inconvenient for recipients who have to travel to pick up money," said Bill Barhydt, m-Via CEO. "Our core consumers are hard-working immigrants who send money home to support their extended families. They are the last people who should be forced to pay exorbitant fees for money transfer services. Boom is a breakthrough service that addresses these problems by leveraging new mobile and banking technologies, and a massive agent and ATM network, combined with a consumer experience that is simple, secure and even fun."

World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU)  offers the International Remittance Network (IRNet) affordable remittance services for credit union members and the community. WOCCU created IRNet to lower the high cost for immigrant workers to make remittances to their families back home.

Fynanz to provide Securian student loan forms

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/17/11)--Fynanz Inc.'s credit union clients can now use Securian Financial Group's PerFORMer loan form under a partnership between the two firms.

Fynanz, a CUNA Strategic Services provider, offers private student loans to credit union members.

Securian's PerFORMer service provides a full set of state and federally compliant loan documents.

"Partnering with Securian provides our credit union clients with a guarantee that their private student lending documents are fully compliant wherever they do business in the U.S.," said Vince Passione, CEO and founder. "Our partnership creates efficiency for all credit unions that use the Fynanz platform for their student lending needs."

Fynanz provides credit unions and other lenders with an end-to-end private student lending technology and processing solution, which includes underwriting, origination and servicing platforms.

Securian Financial Group offers insurance, debt protection, loan documents and marketing services to more than 4,000 financial institutions nationwide.

CUs involved in SaveUp tests for rewards program

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SAN FRANCISCO (11/16/11)--Credit unions are among the financial institutions participating in the pilot program to promote SaveUp, a free, nationwide rewards program for personal savings. 

With beta testing for SaveUp launched on Monday, Americans who are members and customers at U.S. financial institutions can save money, pay down debt and learn about personal finance to earn credits that can be redeemed for the opportunity to win prizes.

SaveUp rewards users making moves that improve their financial standing, such as contributing to their savings or retirement accounts; paying down loans; and engaging with SaveUp's financial education content. 

Prizes include retail gift cards, consumer electronics, luxury vacations, home or wardrobe make-overs, new vehicles, college tuition, debt pay-offs and a $2 million jackpot.

Rewards are provided by consumer brands. SaveUp's brand partners receive exposure through frequent brand placements, exclusive content or category ownership, social media linkage, and the ability to offer coupons, promotions and other exclusive deals to SaveUp users on the site. 

SaveUp provides a free savings rewards program that credit unions and banks can offer to their members/customers--with no capital investment or technology integration required on the part of the financial institution.

Spectrum FCU, San Francisco is among the nine banks and credit unions participating in the SaveUp pilot programs.

ICUL Service Corp. CSS launch CUMONEY family card

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/15/11)--ICUL Service Corp. (LSC), a subsidiary of the Illinois Credit Union League, has introduced a pre-paid debit card and a financial education tool for teens.

LSC's CUMONEY Family Card is part of a continuing expansion of a partnership with CUNA Strategic Services (CSS) to market LSC's travel, gift and general purpose reloadable debit card programs.

"Credit unions know how critical it is to engage young members while providing financial education," said Wes Millar, CSS senior vice president. "The CUMONEY Family Card is a great tool for parents and credit unions to teach money management skills."

The Visa-branded card carries the teen's name and is funded by the parent with oversight and restrictions established by the parent. Parents and other gift givers have the security of knowing that cards are not directly linked to their accounts--funds are only loaded from the accounts.

In addition to the 20 million Visa locations worldwide, the CUMONEY Family Card works at ATMs. Teens and parents also have free, unlimited 24/7 access to www.cumoney.com to check balances and transaction histories.

"The best way to learn is through hands-on experience," said George Fiegle, LSC executive/chief operating officer. The credit union "can help young members develop responsibility and provide them a product they really want."

LSC and CSS have partnered on gift and general purpose reloadable debit card programs since 2009.

Diebold named iSDMsi System Integrator of the Year

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (11/15/11)--ATM provider Diebold has been named the 2011 Systems Integrator of the Year by SDM Magazine.

Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services Provider.

The annual award recognizes a single company that has demonstrated exemplary success, superior innovation and notable accomplishments in the systems integration industry.

"Earning the SDM Systems Integrator of the Year Award is a testament to Diebold's consistent, successful delivery of comprehensive security solutions to our customers," said Charles E. Ducey Jr., executive vice president, North America operations, Diebold. "Our recent work on highly complex security projects has helped to augment our credibility and capability as a leading systems integrator."

Among the successes Diebold highlighted in its award entry, the company said its systems integration work at the World Trade Center (WTC) site in New York City best demonstrates its abilities to perform in the most complex environments. Diebold is managing the installation, integration and maintenance of a situational awareness platform software (SAPS) system that will collect, correlate and display information from the WTC site's critical security systems and provide identity management capabilities.

Coopera CUNA launch three Hispanic training products

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DES MOINES, Iowa and MADISON, Wis. (11/14/11)--Coopera and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) have introduced three new training products to help credit unions better serve the Hispanic immigrant market.

The products include two on-demand training courses for credit union staff and one seminar-in-a-box kit to help credit unions host financial educational events for Hispanic immigrants in their communities. 

"The Hispanic community is one of the most underserved groups in the U.S.," said Miriam De Dios, Coopera vice president. "For a successful Hispanic outreach strategy, it's essential to first learn as much as possible about the unique experience and needs of this market."

Hispanic Immigration Training on Demand is designed to help credit union staff better understand the immigration process and the immigrant experience. 

With Alternative Forms of Identification and Documentation Training on Demand, credit union employees learn how to adapt their Customer Identification Program to serving an immigrant group. Students also are trained to identify the most common forms of identification and documentation used by Hispanic immigrants, and when alternative forms of identification are acceptable.

The Access to Money with Credit--Spanish Member Seminar Kit includes information and materials needed to plan and execute a member seminar on credit in Spanish. The kit compliments the Basic Steps to Managing your Money--Spanish Member Seminar Kit. 

Coopera is an Iowa-based economic development firm focusing on emerging markets that grow opportunities for credit unions. Coopera is majority owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and is a strategic alliance partner of CUNA.

795 directors earn CUNA Board Fin Lit. Certificates

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MADISON, Wis. (11/14/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced that 795 credit union directors and board members from 257 credit unions have earned their CUNA Board Financial Literacy Certificate in 2011.

CUNA created the certificate to help credit union board members stay compliant with the new National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) requirements and keep abreast of the latest regulatory changes.

The certificate will be offered in 2012 and can be earned after successfully completing exams associated with one of four tracks:

  1. Attend either the CUNA CU Finance for Non-Financial Managers & Volunteers School April 22-25 in Orlando, Fla., or the CUNA Volunteer Certification School Sept. 23-28 in Long Beach, Calif.
  1. Attend the CUNA CU Finance for Non-Financial Managers & Volunteers eSchool beginning May 8.
  1. Complete six self-study CUNA Volunteer Achievement Program courses, including: Financial Reports for Volunteers, Managing Risk for Volunteers, Financial Management, Asset-Liability Management for Directors, The Basics of Risk Assessment for Volunteers, and Understanding Audit Reports.
  1. Book an in-house training session.
After completing the designated track, applicants must pass the appropriate assessment(s) to earn the CUNA Board Financial Literacy Certificate.

NCUA has issued requirements to ensure that federal credit union directors have a working knowledge of their credit union's financials. The NCUA now requires directors to comply with educational benchmarks that confirm they have at least a working familiarity with the basic finance and accounting practices of their credit union.

Xtend migrates to new chat tool

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (11/14/11)--Xtend Inc., a credit union service organization (CUSO) based in Grand Rapids, Mich., recently started a project to migrate its online chat service within its Xtension Call Center to a new platform.

Xtension's LiveChat service, which Xtend rolled out to more than a dozen of its CUSO and credit union clients in the past year, is being migrated from an in-house solution to Webex's WebACD service, which delivers call center functionality through the Internet.

"Our early beta deployments have validated that online chat is an integral component of a credit union's overall member support strategy, as well as for CUSO customer service," said Xtend President Scott Collins. "It was clear early on that we would need to identify a platform that was able to scale to meet the demand we anticipate."

Xtend worked closely with the technical teams from sister CUSO CU*Answers to ensure WebACD could be integrated into its core It's Me 247 online banking solution, Collins said.

Xtend also announced it provided inbound member call support for three simultaneous credit union data processing conversions. Each project lasted from Oct. 1 through Oct. 15 and helped contribute to the record number of inbound calls that were handled by Xtension agents during a two-week period.

The three credit unions using Xtension for inbound support were $67 million asset South Bay CU, Redondo Beach, Calif., $65 million Oak Trust CU, $65 million asset Naperville, Ill., and $49 million Riverview CU, Belpre, Ohio.

Xtend also recently completed its largest-ever member outreach call project. The nine-month campaign, which was sponsored by its partner CU*Answers, provided nearly 25,000 targeted outbound calls to members of 59 participating credit unions.

CUNA announces 2012 Finance for Non-financials School

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MADISON, Wis. (11/10/11)--Registration and information is now available for the 2012 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) CU Finance for Non-Financial Managers & Volunteers School, April 22 to 25 in Orlando, Fla. 

CUNA CU Finance for Non-Financial Managers & Volunteers School is tailored for credit union managers and volunteers who seek a broad foundation on the essentials of credit union finance.  From accounting 101 to complex asset-liability strategies, attendees will gain a working knowledge of their credit union's financials and become a better asset to their credit union members.

By attending the school and successfully completing the on-site exam, directors will earn their CUNA Board Financial Literacy Certificate, which ensures compliance with the National Credit Union Administration requirement of board members to prove their financial literacy. By completing the optional exam, board members and volunteers attending the school will also earn six credits toward the Certified Credit Union Volunteer designation.

Instructor Tim Harrington, CPA and president of T.E.A.M. Resources, will cover these topics:

  • The basics of finance and how it affects the credit union;
  • The benefits of a balanced budget;
  • How to read financial statements and analyze the nuances between the numbers;
  • The relationship between risk and interest rates; and
  • What asset-liability is and why it is important to the credit union.
 

The basic financial information shared at the school is vital for all credit union employees to perform their job duties effectively, said Kevin Smith, CUNA director of volunteer education.

Newtek Business Services is top non-bank SBA lender

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NEW YORK (11/9/11)--The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that Newtek Business Services, Inc., The Small Business Authority, has been named as the top non-bank SBA 7(a) program lender for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2011.

Newtek in a release said it has been authorized to fund $130 million in SBA guaranteed small business loans for 2011. This is a dramatic increase from the $75 million in gross loan approvals made in 2010.

Newtek CEO Barry Sloane said his firm provides receivable finance lines of credit to many independent business owners across the United States that are looking to grow their business, and added that Newtek would continue to work with independent business owners and finance their businesses in 2012.

Newtek is a CUNA Strategic Services Provider.

PSCU Fin. Services launches CURewards Mall

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (11/9/11)--PSCU Financial Services has added a new merchant-funded network called CURewards Mall to enhance its CURewards program.

"The CURewards Mall is an innovative way to reward cardholders for their loyalty that is funded by merchants and not credit unions," said Michael Kelly, president/CEO, PSCU Financial Services, a credit union service organization (CUSO). "This attractive rewards option combines personalized offers and online shopping to stimulate higher usage for a credit union's debit and credit cards. The ultimate goal is to build stronger member loyalty."

Members can access the online mall seamlessly through PSCU Financial Services' CURewards website to view in-store or online offers from local, regional and national merchants. The offers can include points or discounts with mall network merchants. Cardholders also can request that notifications be sent to an e-mail address.

PSCU Financial Services is providing marketing support that includes Web banners, in-branch displays, direct mailers, statement inserts and other marketing materials--at no cost to credit unions.

It also provides reports that track network spending, response rates to offers, and the impact of the program on credit card usage. Participating credit unions can earn rebate dollars from member spending in the mall network. Each credit union's monthly invoice will reflect a credit based on its members' spending in the mall network.

No additional implementation or administrative fees are required to add the mall network to a CURewards program.

Nearly 100 member credit unions added the CURewards Mall to their current credit and debit card rewards programs in the November launch--just in time for seasonal shopping, said the CUSO.

CUAOk Services teams with Cachet on mobile deposits

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TULSA, Okla. (11/8/11)--CUAOk Services, the services corporation of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, announced it has formed a strategic alliance with Cachet Financial Solutions to offer Select Mobile, Cachet's mobile remote deposit capture application, to member credit unions.

Cachet's Select Mobile application allows account holders to initiate mobile-deposit sessions on their smartphone or tablet equipped with a two megapixel camera. To make a deposit, the account holder keys in the deposit amount, takes photos of the front and back of the checks, and sends it to the credit union.

Select Mobile captures the check and converts it to a higher quality image by formatting and correcting any distortions or skewing before transmitting. It confirms the images meet industry Check 21 and mobile image-quality standards. Transactions are transmitted with multiple layers or security and, if necessary, can be traced back to registered smartphones to combat fraud.

"CUAOk Services Inc. sought and embraced an alliance with Cachet Financial Solutions because it fits well with most every Oklahoma credit union's mission, and that is to provide quality and convenient service to its members," said Credit Union Association of Oklahoma President/CEO Gary Jones.

The solution includes account management, sales and marketing assistance, and 24/7 customer service, and provides financial institutions the ability to quickly and efficiently deploy the product to the member.  Along with Select Mobile, CUAOk member credit unions also will be able to use Cachet's Select Business solution for their merchant capture and consumer/home capture needs.

PayPal lets users change payment method later

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MADISON, Wis. (11/8/11)--PayPal Inc., an alternative online payments vendor, has introduced a new product that allows users to select their payment method up to five days after they purchase a product.

That contrasts with most mobile wallet vendors who allow their customers to select their method of payment before purchasing the product (American Banker Nov. 4).

PayPal uses Bill Me Later, an instant-credit provider it purchased in 2008, following Bill Me Later's failure to garner a necessary customer base for Pay Later--its home-based instant-credit system.

Based on slightly more information than what a customer usually gives merchants, Bill Me Later provides credit for individual purchases by conducting risk analysis during the checkout process. PayPal, by incorporating this technology into a mobile wallet, can issue customer credit and provide a five-day float for each purchase. Within that timeframe, a customer can change the funding option for each transaction.

CO-OP launches site for consumers redesigns corporate site

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (11/7/11)--CO-OP Financial Services has created a new website dedicated to serving consumers--both members and non-members. It also has launched a revised corporate website.

The new consumer site, www.co-opnetwork.org, aims to assist members of participating credit unions locate more than 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs in the nationwide CO-OP Network. It will link to a locator for more than 4,400 offices within the CO-OP Shared Branch network. It also will provide instructions on how to find ATMs using mobile, text, GPS and phone systems, as well as background information about credit unions and their benefits.

"We created a new consumer site and kept it separate from the corporate site so that credit union members can more easily find the information most important to them--where to find a surcharge-free ATM and a credit union branch near them," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO. "We are also passionate about growing the credit union movement, so we want to use co-opnetwork.org to let non-members know why credit unions are so much better than banks."

The revised corporate site, www.co-opfs.org, has a new color scheme and easier navigation of content. It provides information on CO-OP products and services, online product demos; client resources such as CO-OP Ad Lab; events, including training and webinars; details on CO-OP Miracle Match participations for Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers; and links to the company's THINK conference.

Cre8 My Card has new admin portal

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LAS VEGAS (11/7/11)--T8 Webware has introduced a new administrative portal for Cre8 My Card. The card is an intuitive, Web and mobile application that equips financial institutions with personalized payment card development capabilities.

T8 Webware is a provider of custom-branded mobile applications, websites and personalized payment card services to financial institutions.

The administrative portal gives credit unions, banks and Cre8 My Card resellers management, analytical insight and reporting capabilities of product performance at an institutional and branch level. Cre8 My Card deployers can monitor the number of cards generated, from where images are uploaded as well as volume of approved and denied designs.

"With Cre8 My Card's success among community banks and credit unions, there was an opportunity to evolve the product in a way that appealed to a broader market," said Wade Arnold, T8 Webware CEO. "Providing a higher degree of administrative functionality gives institutions insight to product acceptance and trending on a micro level to then better focus additional adoption initiatives."

Having the ability to administer and track the statistical progress of card adoption enables institutions to focus Cre8 My Card promotions and cross-sell other services among channels and demographic segments. Users also track penetration of personalized cards over time and examine how card adoption relates to additional account acquisition, T8 Webware said.

The portal offers centralized management of image approval, image album selection and system setup. The consolidated control streamlines card-design consent, simplifies employee access and eases billing processes, said the company.

T8 Webware's Cre8 My Card allows consumers to personalize payment cards through a browser-based and tablet-friendly application that interfaces with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. During the creation process, users have full-photo manipulation rights to crop, rotate, resize and adjust saturation of the image to their preference.

Cre8 My Card's flexibility enables users to customize cards at home and allows institution personnel to promote card personalization in-branch or take the experience mobile at community events using the iPad application. As an example, some institutions are applying Cre8 My Card to fundraising efforts through joint, on-site promotions with schools and charities.

Diebolds new technology fights skimming

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (11/4/11)--Diebold is introducing a re-engineered ATM bezel and the Opteva BezelSentry Service to detect and prevent skimming activity at ATMs.

Diebold is CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The company has re-engineered its Opteva ATM hardware to support anti-skimming with a new design for the bezel--the portion of the ATM containing the card slot and the surrounding area.

The re-engineered bezel incorporates geometric fascia alterations, making it more difficult for perpetrators to attach a skimmer to its surface and is designed to eliminate the market inventory of card skimmers. The re-engineered bezel helps protect its integrity during removal attacks and features a removal switch that will send an alarm notifying the financial institution of any attempt to remove the bezel.

Diebold is also offering an interchangeable bezel service.

All shipped Diebold Opteva ATMs will be equipped with the new interchangeable bezel design. Diebold has been shipping terminals equipped with the new design since December 2010. Previously shipped Opteva terminals can be retrofitted with the re-engineered bezel. Future bezel replacements will be available with minimal impact on ATM uptime, said Diebold.

CU 24 hosts network CU conference

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/4/11)--Credit Union 24, a credit union-owned ATM and point-of-sale (POS) network, is hosting "It's Your Network Credit Union Conference," April 19-23.

Celebrating Credit Union 24's 30th anniversary, the conference will reflect on what has been accomplished in POS and ATM access during the past three decades and discuss the direction that the credit union and EFT industries are heading.

CNBC's Andy Friedman, an expert on the economy and politics, will keynote the conference and discuss the changing economic climate, economic trends, and their impact on credit unions now and in the future. 

Additional guest speakers will discuss reaching Gen Y, mobile technology and financial services, taking members from satisfaction to credit union advocacy, and other motivational topics.

Tool allows CUs to download customize policies

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DES MOINES, Iowa--An online resource that gives subscribers access to downloadable, customizable policies has been made available by a Iowa-based credit union service organization.

The new resource, PolicyAid has been released by PolicyWorks, Des Moines, Iowa.

Policies available from PolicyAid include:

  • Asset liability management;
  • Bank Secrecy Act;
  • Disaster recovery;
  • Identity theft red flag;
  • Indirect lending;
  • Risk-based consumer lending; and
  • Vendor management.
PolicyAid is available to subscribers via a password-protected portion of PolicyWorksLLC.com. The library will be updated on a quarterly basis to reflect new and amended regulations.

Annual subscriptions are $299.

PolicyWorks is an Iowa-based provider of regulatory compliance solutions.

Alternative CU health benefits plan offered

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. and BOSTON (11/3/11)--Insurance broker Risk Strategies Company (RSC) is offering the Credit Union Health Benefits of America (CUHB) Plan to credit unions seeking an alternative to traditional medical insurance.

CUHB is a self-funded medical plan with protection against large claims and a capped maximum annual liability for each credit union.

Through a "group buying" arrangement, credit unions can collaborate on program offerings, direct service providers and save an average of 10% to 15% on medical insurance costs.

Through the CUHB plan, credit unions will have the option of a medical plan or a comprehensive benefit package, including dental, life and disability coverage.

CUNA Council paper addresses what drives member loyalty

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MADISON, Wis. (11/2/11)--The CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council's newest white paper,  "The Essential Drivers of Member Loyalty in Credit Unions: Adding Value to the Net Promoter Score," explores the service qualities credit union leaders should focus on to foster growth and create lasting organizational success, said the council.

The paper uses Net Promoter Score, a a loyalty metric and a discipline for using member/customer feedback to fuel profitable growth in a credit union's business.

Written by Neil Goldman the paper the uses the Net Promoter score to answer questions such as:

  • What leads to an exceptional member experience?
  • What leads to meaningful loyalty?
  • What are the universal factors that all credit unions share in driving member advocacy?
The paper investigates the qualities and factors that drive credit union member promotion and detraction, and explores whether age, income or gender make a difference.

Readers are introduced to the SERVQUAL model of customer satisfaction as a framework for understanding the drivers of Net Promoter Scores and how to use the model to create a member experience that inspires high loyalty.

SERVQUAL measures the gap between customer expectations and experience based on five factors:

  • Reliability;
  • Assurance;
  • Tangibles;
  • Empathy, and
  • Responsiveness.
The paper includes research tools for credit union marketers and leaders to incorporate into their planning.

CSS expands risk-managementcompliance alliance with Abound Resources

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MADISON, Wis. (11/2/11)--CUNA Strategic Services Inc. (CSS) and Abound Resources have expanded their alliance to include risk management, compliance consulting and advisory services for credit unions. 

"We are living in an increasingly complex regulatory and economic environment," said Wes Millar, CSS senior vice president. "Abound Resources has demonstrated to us that they possess the experience, knowledge and resources to assist credit unions in these challenging times."

A key benefit of the CSS/Abound Resources risk management relationship to credit unions will be the presence of a single, trusted source of information and services for the broad spectrum of risk management issues.

In addition to a discount on consulting assistance to credit unions, Abound Resources offers free live webinars and information through a resource library on its website. 

"Our risk management and compliance services are now coupled with the existing CSS relationship around our vendor management processes," said Brad Smith, Abound Resources president/CEO. "Credit unions now have a comprehensive set of risk management services available to them ranging from enterprise risk management to specific compliance services."

Credit unions can learn more by attending a free webinar at 2 p.m. (CT) Nov. 17 on "Developing the Enterprise Risk Management Infrastructure for Credit Unions."

For more information, use the link.