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Postilion portal improves voice-banking system

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (1/2/08)--Postilion Inc., a provider of integrated solutions for self-service banking and payment processing, announced that the Postilion for Banks and Credit Unions solution now includes voice banking. The solution offers an in-depth reporting system that tracks use and administrative changes, access to the Postilion portal for centralized system monitoring and administration, a self-guided enrollment process with account access, and the ability to maintain rates on products and update branch and location information. The Postilion portal provides full visibility into credit union members’ accounts, transactions and self-service channel activity. About 24% of consumers prefer to check account balances through automated telephone systems, according to company research. “Voice banking is the latest Postilion self-service banking channel that we bring to market alongside our ATM driving offering and it will soon follow with retail and business online banking, and mobile banking later this year,” said Pierre Naud, Postilion general manager.

Building branding social mission topic of webinar

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MADISON, Wis. (1/2/08)--Participants can earn how to brand and market the credit union social mission during one of several CUNA webinars featured during the first quarter of 2008. Two dozen live webinars will be offered during first quarter to update and educate busy credit union personnel. Webinars are conducted on subjects such as: finance and economics; human resources and training; security; lending; management and leadership; board and volunteer; marketing and business development; operations, sales, and service; and regulatory compliance. Archived versions of many recent webinars also are available. “Building and Branding Your Social Mission” will take place Jan. 29 and will provide strategies and tactics for partnering with local businesses, schools, and nonprofits to brand and market the credit union mission. Participants also will learn how to maximize the return and effectiveness of sponsorships and community giving programs. Other webinars are:
* “Top 100 Credit Unions in Membership Growth,” Jan. 24, which will provide strategies for boosting membership growth numbers; * “Be Our Credit Union Guest: Dealing With Difficult Members,” March 13, which will provide problem-solving options to win over disappointed members and teach participants the art of apologizing without making it too personal or assigning blame; * “Be Our Credit Union Guest: Treating Members as Guests,” scheduled for March 6, which will examine how body language and physical and mental preparedness set the stage for positive interaction. Solving member concerns through active listening and developing dialogue will also be covered; and * “Top 100 Credit Unions in Lending,” scheduled for March 5, which will help identify how credit unions can increase loan-to-share ratios.
For a complete list of webinars, additional information and registration materials, use the link.

eSchool offers ways to build better leaders

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MADISON, Wis. (1/2/08)--Credit union leaders and those aspiring to be leaders can enhance their leadership potential by honing their communication skills during a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) eSchool. The Building Credit Union Leadership Through Communications eSchool meets Jan. 30 through Feb. 27 to focus on enhancing superior listening and communication skills. Topics for the school are: keys to engaging credit union communication (Jan. 30), developing relationships through staff communication (Feb. 6), building collaboration and cooperation with your team (Feb. 13), developing member service excellence (Feb. 20) and legendary credit union leadership (Feb. 27). Other eSchools include:
* Financial Management eSchool: Part I (Jan. 15 to Feb. 28); * Compliance Fundamentals eSchool (Tuesdays from Feb. 5 to Feb. 19); and * Using Tax Returns to Qualify for a Loan eSchool (Feb. 6 to Feb. 20).
Financial Management eSchool focuses on financial statements, asset-liability management, budgets, ratios, investment policy, cost accounting and pricing loans and deposits. Compliance Fundamentals provides an overview of more than 25 major regulations that impact credit unions, and Using Tax Returns to Qualify for a Loan eSchool teaches participants how to analyze a variety of forms and schedules to obtain the relevant information and identify the information that borrowers hide when applying for a loan. For more information, use the links.

Minnesota CUs put member advocacy to work on front lines

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/31/07)--Ten employees from six Minnesota credit unions graduated Dec. 11 from the Member Advocacy Pathways (MAP) program, which teaches staff how to help members through significant life events. MAP is offered through a partnership with Strategic Solutions and the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN). The program consists of nine modules. Upon completion, graduates receive the “Member Advocate” designation. “Staff’s lack of personal experience with many life events causes lost opportunities to recognize and provide appropriate solutions that really make a difference,” said Jeanne Murphy, Strategic Solutions president. “An enormous amount of potential business is lost, affecting the credit union’s bottom line, its competitive brand and member retention.” Through MAP training, employees learn how to identify with members’ situations. “By the end of the program, participants were able to ask the right questions to discover members’ unique needs and recommend customized financial solutions,” said Neil Christy, MnCUN vice president of education and credit union development.

Dupaco adds four sites to shared-branch network

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (12/31/07)--Dupaco Community CU in Dubuque expanded its relationship with Credit Union Service Network (CUSN) by opening four locations as Credit Union Service Centers. Two offices in Dubuque; one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and one in Platteville, Wis.; are now part of the network. Dupaco partnered with CUSN in 2004. The credit union is one of 10 in Iowa to partner in the network, and one of eight to open offices as Credit Union Service Centers. There are 3,000 centers nationwide. Credit Union Service Centers offer participating credit union’s members the ability to cash checks and make deposits; make cash and check withdrawals; make loan payments; make transfers; purchase money orders, traveler’s checks and official checks; obtain cash advances; and inquire about balances. CUSN’s affiliation with shared branching nationwide is through CU Service Corp in Duluth, Ga. Dupaco Community CU has $465 million in assets.

TurboTax accepting e-filed returns early

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SAN DIEGO (12/31/07)--Taxpayers whose refunds will be delayed due to the Alternative Minimum Tax legislation passed last week can file their taxes in January with TurboTax. TurboTax will allow taxpayers to complete and submit their tax returns electronically, starting Jan. 4. Because of the Alternative Minimum Tax legislation, the Internal Revenue Service will not accept some returns until Feb. 11. “Electronic filing with direct deposit is the quickest way to get your tax refund,” said Bob Meighan, certified public accountant and TurboTax vice president. TurboTax is a product of Intuit Inc., a provider of business and financial management solutions for financial institutions, including credit unions.

Dynamic Card Solutions files for customized card patent

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (12/28/07)--Dynamic Card Solutions (DCS), developer of CardWizard, announced it has filed for a second instant issuance technology patent. The patent protects the process used to customize individual debit, credit, ATM and prepaid cards. It also aims to secure the systems and methods that allow card issuers to produce personalized cards for cardholders. This includes the transmission of all card personalization information, such as the cardholder’s name, account number, expiration date and security codes. In April, DCS was awarded a patent for CardWizard instant issuance technology. The patent recognizes CardWizard’s method for handling card issue requests and enhancing security. Credit unions using the DCS CardWizard software personalization device can request any background on the front or back of a card. DCS is a developer of instant issuance and personal identification number solutions for financial institutions, including credit unions.

Aimbridge Automotive Avenue upgrades website

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (12/27/07)--Aimbridge Lending Solutions, a provider of auto buying and lending services, announced that Automotive Avenues has launched a more interactive website. Automotive Avenues is a division of Aimbridge. The website, www.autoaves.com, assists consumers with the car buying process. The new site features a private membership log-in where members can save personal information and manage their accounts; a custom program for members to build a new car to their preferences, have it priced and then order it through the website; improved research and 360-degree views of the automobiles’ interiors and exteriors; auto check history reports and comparisons; and a Spanish-language version of inventory. “With almost 90% of the current car-buying process completed online, including research, it was important that Automotive Avenues have a site that could fulfill what members wanted,” said Bill Green, Aimbridge president. Automotive Avenues has provided car buying information to more than 60,000 credit union members to date.

Products and Services briefs (12/21/2007)

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* JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (12/26/07)--Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS) announced that BB&T Bankcard Corp.’s 1.1 million credit card accounts have been converted to the FIS platform. FIS is processing all transactions for credit cards issued by BB&T Bankcard Corp. The conversion project took 10 months. FIS is a core processing provider for financial institutions, including credit unions… * MINNEAPOLIS (12/26/07)--The Credit Union Loan Source has selected Daybreak Lending Suite as its loan servicing and collections platform. The servicing and collection modules of Daybreak will be deployed in an action server pages (ASP) environment. The Credit Union Loan Source will access the system from a production office. Daybreak is a consumer lending system that automates all aspects of financing--from origination to servicing and collections. The Credit Union Loan Source is a credit union service organization owned by several Georgia credit unions and credit union organizations … * MURRIETA, Calif. (12/26/07)--CUTEK, a financial technology consulting firm for credit unions using Symitar’s Episys core processing system, has contracted to implement its wire transfer form solution at Keesler FCU in Biloxi, Miss. Keesler will deploy the process by Feb. 1. The wire transfer form automates the funding process by filling out the wire form electronically, and the Symitar Episys system forwards the transfer data from the teller to the credit union’s manager and accounting department. When the process is complete, funds are transferred while wire transfer fees are processed by the credit union. The form also is tied to the Office of Foreign Assets Control to confirm that the recipient’s and sender’s information is not restricted … * ARVADA, Colo. (12/26/07)--Credit Union Service Network recently hired Meghan K. Green as its new marketing consultant. Green will develop and manage the marketing program, including public relations, website enhancements and consumer outreach programs. Green worked as a marketing representative for Public Service CU in Denver and as the marketing director at US Alliance CU in Denver … * ARVADA, Colo. (12/26/07)--Credit Union Service Network (CUSN) announced that it has added Union Pacific Streamliner FCU in Omaha, Neb., to its shared-branching network. Union Pacific joined the network as an issuer, meaning that its members can use any CUSN center nationwide. CUSN also announced that four new service centers opened in November, and two credit unions that had participated in the CUSN shared branching as issuers had welcomed guest members for the first time in November. Members FCU in Montrose, Colo., opened one branch for guest members, and St. Vrain Valley CU in Longmont, Colo., opened two branches for guest members. Through shared branching at CUSN, credit union members have access to 2,900 service centers nationwide …

Diebold continues discussion with SECs chief accountant

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (12/26/07)--Diebold Inc., an ATM manufacturer, is continueing discussion with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the company’s discontinued practice of recognizing certain revenue on a “bill and hold” basis. “Bill and hold” refers to ownership of a product that contractually passes to the customer and revenue is recognized by the supplier prior to delivery of the products to the customer. Changes in the company’s bill and hold revenue recognition practice would affect the timing of recognition of certain revenue. However, Diebold does not anticipate that the change in timing would impact previously reported cash provided by operating activities or the company’s net cash position, the company stated in a press release. Diebold is continuing its dialogue with SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant so it can determine the most appropriate revenue recognition method to replace its bill and hold practice. It will provide further information once guidance is received. Diebold also will provide revenue estimates for 2007.

Study validates staying power of Opteva ATM says Diebold

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LAS VEGAS (12/21/07)--Consumers favor ATMs to view account balances, transfer funds and make deposits, according to a recent study examining banking trends among three generations of users. The study, commissioned by Perceptive Sciences, validates Diebold’s Opteva ATM, according to Charles E. Ducey, Diebold senior vice president of global development and services. The study also indicated that members of all generations prefer to scan checks directly at an ATM, rather than make envelope-deposits. “Fifty-six percent of ATM users are likely to deposit checks, and 55% tend to deposit cash if they can do so without an envelope,” Ducey said. Diebold’s Opteva ATM, which supports envelope-free transactions, aims to reduce costs. “When an envelope-free ATM deposit replaces an envelope deposit, the transaction cost drops from $1.70 to 40 cents,” Ducey said. Tom Thornton, the study’s author, said next-generation customers will expect their ATM interfaces to be smart enough to predict user actions and maintain a history of interactions with specific users. “Truly smart banking interfaces will support both user customization and targeted personalization--key factors in meeting the self-expression needs and the time sensitivity that are hallmarks of the next-generation banking customer,” he said. When Diebold developed Opteva, “we didn’t just create a product of time, we created a financial self-service solution to meet and exceed needs we knew would surface based on our very diligent study of financial institutions and their present and future customers,” Ducey said. Diebold, an ATM manufacturer, has representation in 90 countries.

FSCC payout nearly 500000 dividend from fund

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (12/20/07)--Financial Services Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) distributed a payout of about $500,000 in patronage dividends to shareholder credit unions Friday. The payout was from dividends generated by the 2003 revolving fund. In 2003, FSCC processed more than 11 million acquired transactions, which resulted in more than $1.2 million of patronage dividends. Friday’s payout was 40% of the total 2003 patronage dividends. The initial payment of 20% was paid March 12, 2004. FSCC plans to announce disbursement of 2007 patronage dividends by the second quarter of next year. It also expects to add 200 new outlet branches to the network, in addition to more than 2,000 V-com access points at 7-Eleven stores in September. FSCC, a credit union shared branch network, provides 5,000 full-service deposit locations in the U.S. and overseas.

Mortgagebot helps CU accelerate mortgage loans

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MEQUON, Wis. (12/19/07)--Bank-Fund Staff FCU (BFSFCU) in Washington, D.C. provides members with same-day loan approvals and has reduced its mortgage application process to less than 20 minutes with a new loan origination solution. The Web-based solution, PowerSite, is from Mortgagebot LLC in Mequon, Wis. PowerSite allows lenders to accept mortgage applications online, through a credit union branch, or from a loan officer’s computer. Borrowers can complete a mortgage application, and receive pre-approval and a full set of disclosures within 20 minutes. With PowerSite, BFSFCU’s online application-to-close “pull through” rate has jumped to 80% from 40%, according to the credit union. Prior to deploying PowerSite, the credit union identified several items in its loan process that needed improvement:
* A two-to-three-day approval cycle; * A basic form for loan approval that did not collect enough data to serve as a complete loan application; * The lack of a point-of-sale system for mortgage applications completed over the phone; and * Paper-based applications requiring data entry.
“Our goal was to keep up with member demand for mortgages. We had to provide more timely service,” said Candy Akinyode, BFSFCU mortgage outsourcing supervisor. BFSFCU also implemented PowerSite Pro for loan officers, which allows them to accept mortgage applications where Internet access is available. The credit union also implemented the PowerSite call center in August, partnering with the Credit Union Mortgage Alliance Network (CUMAnet), a PowerSite client. Under the agreement, BFSFCU will use PowerSite to originate, process, and close loans in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia. CUMAnet also will act as BFSFCU’s outsourced national mortgage center, taking applications by phone for 45 other states. BFSFCU has $2.2 billion in assets.

FSCC announces new management team

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (12/18/07)--Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) has promoted a number of its staff members to new management positions. “While shared branching remains our primary focus, some of our old titles and job descriptions just did not fit the new roles people are playing,” said Sarah Canepa Bang,
FSCC president/CEO. Staff promoted include:
* Bonnie Kramer, executive vice president and chief operating officer; * Veronica Desrosiers, vice president of finance/chief financial officer; * Gail Picken, vice president of business development and chief marketing officer; * Salvador Mendoza, vice president of network operations; * Amanda Smith, vice president of innovation and integration; * Martha Aragon, senior marketing manager; and * Don Denofio, senior sales manager.

CUNA Strohl renew biz continuity planning pact

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MADISON, Wis. (12/18/07)--Credit unions will continue to have access to Internet-based business continuity planning software and consulting services through the renewed strategic alliance between CUNA Strategic Services and Strohl Systems. Under the agreement, PLANet will be marketed to credit unions along with the following Strohl Systems consulting services: plan development, plan testing, plan evaluation, plan conversion, facility evaluation, and recovery readiness and review. PLANet allows credit unions to build, maintain and test plans. It helps meet audit and regulatory requirements related to business continuity planning and disaster recovery. issued by the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. PLANet guides users through the planning process to ensure compliance, and provide assistance for each task and track progress. It includes the ability to have concurrent users and to create an unlimited number of plans. Plans can be customized for various branch locations and regions, as well as emergency response, crisis management, information technology recovery and pandemic planning. More than 700 credit unions use PLANet.

CO-OP announces 10th price cut in 10 years

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (12/18/07)--CO-OP Financial Services announced a 10th price reduction in 10 years that will affect Falcon Neural Network transaction scoring for signature and personal identification-number debit transactions. The decrease will result in an estimated $1 million in savings for CO-OP’s 2,800 member credit unions, according to the company. “We routinely survey the market and re-evaluate our pricing structure,” said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. “Our executive management team and board of directors felt it was important to provide our members with a reduction in the fraud and risk management area, because it remains a primary focus for the financial services industry.” CO-OP is a credit union services organization that provides ATM network access, ATM processing, debit and card services, and shared branching.

Products and Services briefs (12/14/2007)

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* DALLAS (12/17/07)--Five credit unions in five states sold their credit card portfolios to TNB Card Services. The credit unions are: Grafton Suburban CU, North Grafton, Mass.; Independent FCU, Anderson, Ind.; Western Cooperative CU, Williston, N.D.; County Schools FCU, Ventura, Calif.; and Eastern Maine Medical Center FCU, Bangor, Maine. TNB, an electronic and payments processing solutions provider, has acquired more than 45 portfolios in 2007 … * PORTLAND, Ore. (12/17/07)--CU Business Group announced the date, location and speaker line-up for its 2008 National Conference. The conference will take place March 11-13 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Speakers include Gigi Hyland, National Credit Union Administration board member; Larry Middleman, president/CEO, CU Business Group; Debrah Parker, senior vice president, Community First CU; Anna DeYoung, CEO, Sky FCU; Lisa Gambee, principal, Creative Abandon; Jeremy Presta, CEO, ParkSide FCU; Robert Pfaendler, principal, The R. Pfaendler Co.; Chris Oldag, senior vice president, Patelco CU; and Cheri Perry, president, Total Merchant Concepts … * DES MOINES, Iowa (12/17/07)--The 2008 Midwest Management Issues Conference will be held Jan. 13-16 in Savannah, Ga. The conference is a collaborative effort of leagues from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Breakout sessions will be tailored for credit union managers and volunteers. Featured speakers include Tom Glatt, CEO of Continental FCU in El Segundo, Calif., who will speak about his credit union’s experience with a takeover attempt by Wings FCU in Apple Valley, Minn.; and Ron Galloway, producer of the documentary “Why Wal-Mart Works.” For more information, use the link … * AUSTIN, Texas (12/17/07)--FirstClose will offer First American CoreLogic’s ValuePoint4 Default automated valuation model and property verification reports to its clients, including credit unions. ValuePoint 4 and property verification reports are available through batch processing and in the first quarter of 2008 through a technology integration with FirstClose’s platform, the company stated (National Mortgage News Dec. 10). FirstClose is a service of First Lenders Data Inc. …

CU 24 adds Allpoint network

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (12/14/07)--CU 24, a national credit union-owned point-of-sale (POS) network, has added the Allpoint network to its CU HERE surcharge-free ATM program. The CU HERE Premium program is an offshoot of CU 24’s surcharge-free CU HERE network, which combines ATMs at participating credit unions and at Publix Supermarkets with MoneyPass Network locations. The combined network will provide credit unions with more than 45,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide, with locations in all 50 states. CU 24 will defray the costs of the Allpoint surcharge-free ATMs during the first year of the program. The expanded CU HERE network will take effect in February 2008, and CU 24 participants can opt-in to the CU HERE program in January. CU 24 is has multiple processor links, hundreds of thousands of POS locations and more than 100,000 ATM terminals in the U.S. Allpoint is a division of Cardtronics and has 32,000 ATMs in national and regional merchant locations nationwide.

New ATM checking technology appeal to younger set

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RANCHO CUCAGMONGA, Calif. (12/14/07)--The average age of a credit union member is 47, which means credit unions must incorporate new technology to “start getting younger fast,” said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. Credit unions have begun using check-imaging capabilities, which 18-to-34-year-olds are adapting to, Hollen said. “Whether at the ATM, in-branch, at home, work or via kiosks, credit unions should begin deploying this technology on a large scale. Checks may be dipping in use, but they’ll continue to be a dominant payment mechanism for the future,” he explained. Check-imaging technology has a “strong youth appeal,” said David Sigal, vice president of finance for USA FCU in San Diego. “Transactions continue to grow, members are very comfortable using the technology, balancing and the image-proofing process is quick and easy, and we’ve found the cost of moving images is approximately 50% of moving paper items.” Check imaging allows consumers to place a check into an ATM kiosk, display the image on a screen and print a receipt. About 32 billion checks are written each year. Empty envelopes account for about half of all ATM fraud, according to CO-OP. CO-OP is a credit union service organization based in Rancho Cucamonga.

CO-OP Costco to offer surcharge-free ATMs

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (12/13/07)--Twenty-six million credit union cardholders will now have access to surcharge-free ATMs at 341 Costco locations in 35 states. CO-OP Financial Services, which operates the CO-OP Network and its 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs, recently signed an agreement with Costco, a wholesale warehouse chain, to give cardholders increased ATM access (ATMmarketplace.com Dec. 11). More than 80% of CO-OP Network transactions are conducted at credit union ATMs. Members have asked CO-OP to form partnerships with retail chains, according to Stan Hollen, CO-OP president/CEO. CO-OP also has signed a similar agreement with 7-Eleven, which allows credit union cardholders to access their accounts at ATMs in 5,500 7-Eleven stores nationwide. Costco, based in Issaquah, Wash., has 383 warehouses in the U.S.

Newtek Business Services signs up 200th CU

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NEW YORK (12/13/07)--Newtek Business Services Inc., a provider of business services and financial products to the small and medium-sized business market and a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Strategic Service provider, announced that it has signed its 200th credit union strategic alliance partner. The credit union, Cornerstone Community FCU, is located in Auburn Hills, Mich. Partnerships with Newtek provide credit unions with business services, including NewTracker, a tool that credit unions can use to track their members’ use of services. Barry Sloane, chairman and CEO of Newtek Business Services said that he is proud of the continued growth of the credit union base, but “it represents only a small share of the market, creating significant opportunity for us to increase the overall number of Newtek credit union partners.” Newtek Business Services has contracted alliance partnerships with CUNA, Fiserv Solutions Inc., IntegraSys and PSCU Financial Services.

Products and Services briefs (12/11/2007)

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* NORTH CANTON, Ohio (12/12/07)--Diebold Inc. has contracted with BB&T Corp. for the purchase of 300 Opteva ATMs for installation at sites throughout 11 states and Washington, D.C. The order includes Opteva models used by BB&T to upgrade its network of 2,100 ATMs between now and 2010. A group of 20 Opteva terminals will be installed by the end of 2007. Opteva ATMs range from lobby cash dispensers to advanced function walk-up and drive-up machines. BB&T, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., has more than $130.8 billion in assets and more than 1,500 financial centers in 11 states … * TUKWILA, Wash., and ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/12/07)--Card processor Member Access Pacific (MAP) and the MoneyPass ATM network have partnered to provide MAP credit unions and cardholders with access to more than 11,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide. The MoneyPass-MAP alliance provides partner benefits for credit unions that contract to participate in the program. MAP, based in Tukwila, Wash., provides card processing, prepaid solutions, technology and ATM services to credit unions nationwide. MoneyPass is headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., and is a network of Elan Financial Services, a provider of ATM and debit card processing solutions …

CUSO Financial Services offers online trading investment program

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SAN DIEGO (12/11/07)--Small credit union members will have access to online trading and an investment program through CUSO Financial Services’ new online consortium. A partnership of seven credit unions in Michigan, called CU Partner Solutions, has already signed on to the program. The credit unions are: Affinity Group CU, Pontiac; Clawson Community CU, Clawson; Crestwood Community CU, Garden City; Kensington Valley Community CU, Highland; ROME CU, Royal Oak; Unity CU, Warren; and Birmingham-Bloomfield CU, Birmingham. CUSO Financial Services developed the consortium to help smaller credit unions retain and grow assets. Credit unions can choose to offer an online-only investment program or they can share a trained and registered representative for a full-service investment program. CUSO Financial Services is a full-service broker dealer and registered investment adviser that provides customized investment and insurance solutions to the credit union industry.

FSCC USA FCU partner to expand service overseas

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SAN DIEGO and SAN DIMAS, Calif. (12/10/07)--Members of Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) and USA FCU in San Diego will be able to access their credit union accounts in multiple Southern California branches and in Japan and Korea. Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) has partnered with USA FCU to offer the expanded service. USA FCU has added FSCC shared branch services to five locations in California, and two locations in Japan and Korea. An estimated 26 million shared branch members will be able to use the service. USA FCU has more than $700 million in assets. It serves military, civilian and select employee groups. FSCC is a credit union shared branch network with 5,000 full service locations in the U.S. and five countries. Its credit unions represent $125 billion in assets.

CheckFree contracts to offer electronic billing to Allstate customers

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BROOKFIELD, Wis. (12/7/07)--CheckFree announced that it has made an agreement with The Allstate Corp. to distribute electronic bills to Allstate customers. Allstate customers can receive their bills through more than 3,000 electronic billing and payment websites powered by CheckFree. Customers can receive their bills from Allstate to their preferred financial institution or credit union. Electronic bills, or e-bills, are delivered directly to a user’s online account. Unlike a paper bill delivered in the mail, the e-bills enable users to view and pay their bills online. They also can review balances and transactions and schedule automatic bill payments. The agreement will positively impact the environment, said Cathy Lazaroff, Allstate vice president of customer experience and innovation. CheckFree is a part of Fiserv Inc., which provides information management and electronic commerce systems and services to the financial industry. Allstate is a personal lines insurer with presence in the U.S. and Canada.

Wescom to aquire eCU Technologies

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PASADENA, Calif. (12/7/07)--Wescom Resources Group (WRG), a provider of Internet banking and back-office solutions for credit unions, announced that it will acquire eCU Technologies, a credit union service organization of Pennsylvania State Employees CU. The acquisition will close Dec. 31. WRG has appointed Tim Dolan to be its new president. Dolan replaces Kevin Sarber, who was promoted to senior vice president of service delivery for Wescom CU. Sarber also joined WRG’s board of directors. “WRG and eCU Technologies have been long-time strategic business partners of Symitar, so it’s exciting to consider the possibilities that this acquisition creates,” said Kathy Hooker Burress, Symitar president. Wescom CU has $3.9 billion in assets and is located in Pasadena. Pennsylvania State Employees CU has $2.8 billion in assets and is based in Harrisburg, Pa.

CO-OP moves fraud call center in-house

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (12/6/07)--CO-OP Financial Services has brought its fraud service center in-house, with more than 20 analysts to research and service CO-OP client cases. The center was created to focus on CO-OP credit unions that use Falcon Fraud Manager, a neural network technology that examines signature and personal identification number debit transactions. Analysts are trained to monitor the data, identify trends and take corrective action. “We recently reissued cards to a number of our members who were part of an account data compromise,” said Michelle Mattson, electronic service administrator at T&C FCU in Bloomfield, Mich. “Typically, we allow two weeks during this type of reissue before we block the members’ old cards. The service center brought a fraud trend to our attention, showing compromises on some of the old cards, and we were able to block 20 of them before the two-week window.” CO-OP Financial Services, a credit union service organization, has 2,800 credit union members and more than 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

Fiserv completes acquisition of CheckFree

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BROOKFIELD, Wis. (12/6/07)--Fiserv Inc. announced that it has completed the acquisition of CheckFree Corp. Under terms of the transaction, Fiserv acquired the company for $4.4 billion in cash, or $48 per share. Fiserv also announced that its co-founder, Norm Balthasar, senior executive vice president and CEO, will retire from his position Dec. 21. He will remain with the company through June 30 to assist with the CheckFree integration. Fiserv, based in Brookfield, provides information management and electronic commerce systems and services to the financial industry. CheckFree, based in Norcross, Ga., is a provider of financial electronic commerce services and products, including electronic bill pay and Internet banking. More than 3,000 financial services websites use CheckFree’s products.

Alliance One Sheetz Inc. cooperate on surcharge-free ATMs

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/5/07)--Alliance One, the national selective-surcharge ATM group managed by Corporate One FCU in Columbus, announced that it is adding more than 330 ATMs in Sheetz convenience stores across six states. Alliance One logos will be displayed in the windows of Sheetz stores and on the ATMs inside each store. The ATMs also will appear on Alliance One's ATM locator. ATMs in Sheetz stores are surcharge-free to all cardholders. Alliance One also has partnered with Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc., state credit union leagues, and other service bureaus.

Diebold to form direct operation in Central America

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (12/5/07)--Diebold Inc. intends to sign an agreement with General Business Machines (GBM) to form a direct operation that will offer Diebold services to Central America and the Caribbean. The operation will be effective Jan. 1, and will operate under the name Diebold Central America. The operation’s main objectives are to provide extended coverage and improved services for financial industry and security customers in each country in the region. Under the agreement, Diebold intends to purchase a controlling share of GBM’s ATM distribution business. Diebold Central America will be based in San Jose, Costa Rica, and will have 50 employees. Jose Ardon will serve as general manager. GBM is a regional company in Central America with a presence in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

CU card portfolio sales continue at steady pace

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PORTLAND, Ore. (12/4/07)--Credit union card portfolio sales are steady, according to recent industry research. Forty-seven credit unions with credit card portfolios of more than $1 million in outstanding balances sold their balances during the first three quarters of 2007, according to Brookwood Capital (SourceMedia Nov. 23). AssetExchange, a credit card portfolio advisory and brokerage firm, also analyzed third-quarter trends and found that credit union cards are gaining strength in the market. For the 2,100 credit unions with card portfolios of $1 million or more, the average balance per account has grown by 11% to $2,347 from September 2006 to September 2007. During the same period, the percentage of portfolios that grew more than the rate of inflation increased 60%. Total card assets increased to $27.5 billion in September 2007 from $24.2 billion in September 2006, representing a hike of 13.8%. Twelve credit unions with portfolios of $1 million or more sold their portfolios during the third quarter of 2007, with a dollar volume of $40 million. Credit unions have managed to avoid the subprime mortgage crisis, according to Tim Kolk, Brookwood managing partner. Losses related to the subprime market may encourage some banks to increase card fees and interest rates to attract more profits. Credit unions’ lower card fees will be more attractive, he said.