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Equifax improves credit transparency

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ATLANTA (6/1/09)--Equifax announced it has improved credit transparency through the integration of Discover Source--which provides automated tax filing information--into its TALX unit, an automated employment and income verification provider. The solution creates a risk profile with an income and employment status of a borrower, drawn from a database of consumer files. The profile also contains federal tax return data, key mortgage-related data and predictive income. Equifax provides employment and income verification and human resources business process outsourcing services to financial institutions, including credit unions. “For the mortgage industry, this suite provides a single source for the vast majority of data needed for loan modifications and mortgage lending,” said Dann Adams, Equifax president of consumer information services. “To be successful in today’s environment, financial institutions must have an understanding of not only a borrower’s propensity to pay, based on credit information, but also their capacity to pay,” said Bill Canfield, TALX president. The solution draws from a database of more than 200 million consumer files and a subsidiary with more than 192 million employer records, Equifax said. Equifax is based in Atlanta.

Indiana league Servicecorp offers ed assistance to clients

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INDIANAPOLIS (6/1/09)--The Indiana Credit Union League’s Servicecorp is offering a promotion that allows its client credit unions to receive a 20% rebate on the registration cost of education sessions. “The Servicecorp offer extends to education sessions, including webinars, teleconferences, seminars, conferences and planning sessions presented by the league,” said Indiana league President John McKenzie. The rebates will continue until an aggregate total of $20,000 is reached, the league said. Registration fees for major conferences also have been reduced by 10% to 20% compared with last year.

Empathy in innovation keynotes CUNA council summit

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MADISON, Wis. (6/1/09)--Credit unions can learn how to create new value in credit union products and services by focusing on empathy to drive innovation during the CUNA Technology Council Summit, Aug. 5-8 in San Francisco. During “Wired to Care,” Dev Patnaik, founder of the growth strategy firm Jump Associates, will explain how companies must first understand what potential customers care about in order to create new value. He also will discuss the biological sources of empathy within the human mind and their role in decision making, learning and judgment. Patnaik will demonstrate how politicians can use empathy to cut through a jungle of contradictory information. Core Processor Roadmap breakout sessions will aim to help credit unions be more competitive and help drive efficiency. Representatives from OSI, Symitar Systems, Harland Financial Solutions and Fiserv will outline short- and long-term plans, how their plans intersect industry trends, and the benefits to credit unions. Additional conference sessions will explore: online banking, collaboration technologies, Six Sigma, virtual solutions for real problems, information technology examiner issues, security and compliance, update and open-source software. “This year’s sessions are focused on good decision-making that takes advantage of efficient technologies and innovative solutions to help credit unions stay at the forefront of technology during a turbulent economy,” said Rudy Pereira, council chair and senior vice president of operations and technology for Alliance CU in Chicago. Participants may register online. A complimentary conference registration and up to $1,500 in related expenses are available through the Dan Riley Memorial Scholarship. For more information, use the link.

CUAnswers enhances 360-day mortgage payments

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/29/09)--CU*Answers announced that CU*BASE has changed the way it handles member payments on mortgage loans with a 360-day interest calculation type. The changes are a part of the CU*BASE Gold 9.0 release, available now for online credit unions and June 3-4 for self-processors. CU*BASE can handle simultaneous posting of a regular payment and a separate principal-only payment, with two independent transactions and member-friendly descriptions, without using special teller procedure codes. Other enhancements include:
* New interactive user messages for handling any payment amount; * New secondary transaction descriptions, which document a member’s decisions to make a regular payment or principal-only payment; * The ability to configure mortgages to allow members to pay ahead; and * The ability to choose a monthly interest calculation date other than the 20th to match the day of the month used by loan participation partners.
CU*Answers is a credit union service organization in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Products and Services briefs (05/28/2009)

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* GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/29/09)--Xtend Inc. announced a Web chat service for its business partners. The service has been deployed on several websites of key business partners. Chat requests are forwarded to Xtend’s Xtension Call Center for response. “We were looking for a way to test Web chat in a business-to-business environment and our partners were quick to respond,” said Scott Collins, Xtend president. “Our next step will be beta projects for credit unions--business-to-consumer communication from both their websites and home banking.” Xtend is a credit union service organization in Grand Rapids, Mich. ... * GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/29/09)--A Michigan credit union service organization, Xtend Inc., has announced its seventh-annual stockholder’s meeting June 16 at its Grand Rapids headquarters. Xtend’s meeting also will coincide with Leadership Week events of its partner credit union service organization, CU*Answers. Each year, roughly 200 credit union professionals attend the meetings, according to Scott Collins, Xtend president ... * GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/29/09)--WESCO Net has expanded its national management network to include monitoring of advanced Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) parameters to help credit unions troubleshoot existing VoIP deployments or certify networks prior to a VoIP installation. “Credit unions are looking at VoIP solutions as a way to save money and drive staff effectiveness,” said Dave Wordhouse, WESCO Net vice president of network technology. The VoIP services are being provided to credit unions nationwide, with the advanced management offered at no extra charge for WESCO Net-managed credit union clients ...

CUNA Mutual webinar on supervisory committees

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MADISON, Wis. (5/29/09)--A CUNA Mutual Group webinar will explore the importance of a credit union supervisory committee at 7 p.m. EDT on June 10. Registration is open for the free event, “What Your Supervisory Committee Should Do For You.” More than 400 credit union executives and volunteers already have signed up. The webinar will discuss the roles and responsibilities of a credit union’s supervisory committee, as outlined by the National Credit Union Administration, and focus on the non-financial institution professional serving as a volunteer on a credit union’s board and committees. “In today’s complex environment filled with rules, regulations and best practices, supervisory committee responsibilities are immense and growing every day,” said Joni Lovingood, CUNA Mutual risk manager and webinar instructor. “This session is ideal for credit union board and supervisory committee members, and it’s being held in the evening, which should be convenient for credit union volunteers.” The 2009 Credit Union Protection Webinar Series is designed to help credit unions address the most costly and most common risk areas in the industry.

Coastal HR Employment Law Conference set for July

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MADISON, Wis. (5/28/09)--Credit union professionals can check if they are in compliance with all new and updated labor and employment laws by attending a conference presented by the Credit Union National Association. The Coastal HR Employment Law Conference, July 23-24 in Hilton Head, S.C., will explain current and upcoming changes to human resources acts, laws and regulations, and how they affect credit unions. Topics to be covered include:
* What has already changed--explains credit unions’ legal obligations under the new Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADA), new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; * What will change--outlines amended, expanded, or significantly revised labor and employment legislation passed during the Obama administration and the effects on credit unions; * What hasn't changed--helps credit unions avoid common pitfalls that produce liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the most violated and least understood of all federal employment laws; * What will never change--teaches how to motivate employees to excellence in difficult economic times by creating a management culture of servant leadership, which means the leader is a servant first; * Toolkits for ADA, the new FMLA, and the Ledbetter law--supplies sample language for position descriptions, policies for employee handbooks, how-to guides, and other information to address challenges; * Credit union high-spot review--provides checklists and a review of human resources practices, and suggestions to improve practices that may leave a credit union open to scrutiny; and * Measuring effectiveness of employee satisfaction--reviews some of the best methods for measuring employee satisfaction and performance, and provides tips to achieve the results for long-term satisfaction and performance.

Raddon survey monitors small-biz trends for FIs

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LOMBARD, Ill. (5/28/09)--Raddon Financial Group (RFG) recently formed a small business research consortium to analyze how small businesses perceive financial institutions and use financial products and services. Raddon is a provider of research-based solutions to financial institutions--including credit unions--and a strategic business unit of Open Solutions Inc. The research program comprises a semi-annual nationwide survey of small businesses. Among the findings from a March survey:
* This year, 30% of small businesses with annual sales of $500,000 to $10 million plan to lay off employees; * Of those surveyed, 52% will freeze pay and 41% plan to eliminate bonuses in 2009; * Small business cost-cutting measures extend to health insurance benefits and 401(k) matches; and * Nine percent of small businesses expect to reduce operating expenses by closing or consolidating facilities.
Although many small businesses are cutting costs to cope with the current economic environment, 18% expect that their annual sales will increase in 2009, while 37% expect flat sales. However, 45% expect sales to decrease this year. RFG developed the research to help participating institutions such as credit unions increase their small business relationships, evaluate competitive strategies, identify new product ideas and develop a segmentation approach to acquire and retain customers.

SW CUNA Management School adds social media course

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/27/09)--Students at Southwest CUNA Management School (SCMS) scheduled for July 12-22 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth will be able to take a new social media class, which has been added to the first-year curriculum. George Low, associate professor of marketing and marketing department chair at Texas Christian will teach the course. He challenged his students to register for at least one social media website and come to class with one idea on how to use the site to attract new members or retain existing ones. The experience aims to build class discussion about the possibilities of social media, according to the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer May 26). New SCMS faculty recruit Doralee McNeary, CUNA Mutual Group member, also will teach a first year Risk Management course. She will show students how to identify risk factors that credit unions encounter and how to streamline possible losses. For more information, use the link.

Council seeks performance optimization best practices

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MADISON, Wis. (5/26/09)--The CUNA Operations, Sales and Service (OpSS) Council is seeking nominations for its Best Practices Awards recognizing innovative solutions that optimize credit union performance. One winning Credit Union National Association (CUNA)-affiliated credit union will be chosen, without regard to asset size, for strategy, process, application and results in each of four categories:
* Sales and service management--Includes innovative approaches to create and cultivate a sales culture, unique sales coaching or incentive programs, or staff sales tools designed for selling and member/customer relationship management. * Branch design--Looks at nontraditional elements used in developing new or remodeled branch facilities that enhance member service. * Call/contact center--Seeks outstanding performance and excellence in call center operations; * Operational efficiency and productivity--Highlights tactics to increase expense control, improve productivity and to provide measurable member benefits.
Entries for the awards are due July 30. For descriptions and entry forms, use the link. Winners will be announced during the council's 12th annual conference Sept. 27-30 in San Diego. Winners, who must be present and deliver a short PowerPoint presentation summarizing their entries, will receive complimentary conference registration. For more information, use the links.

iPay Technologies teams up with Beacon Software

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NEW YORK (5/22/09)--iPay Technologies has teamed up with Beacon Software so that iPay can provide its online bill pay and small business products to Beacon’s credit union and community bank clients. The partnership will result in a suite of online banking and bill pay solutions, the companies said (Datamonitor May 7). Beacon’s internet banking solution is designed for community-oriented financial institutions, according to Jack Fullen, Beacon president/CEO. The partnership will help community-based financial institutions compete with larger institutions regionally and nationally, said iPay Technologies President/CEO John Perry.

Products and Services briefs (05/21/2009)

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* DENVER (5/22/09)--Nice Enterprises, which has 850 credit union clients nationwide, announced that it has partnered with AtTask to bring AtTask’s project- and portfolio- management solution to credit unions. With AtTask’s solution, credit unions can evaluate potential projects based on strategic and financial objectives, and choose the projects that provide the most value. The multilingual, platform-independent solution helps credit unions manage projects and resources to achieve institutional objectives with a formal request process, demand management, project prioritization and selection ... * INDIANAPOLIS (5/22/09)--FORUM Solutions, a subsidiary of FORUM CU, was awarded the Excellence in Corporate Information Technology at the 2009 Mira Awards in Indianapolis. The award honors those who have contributed to Indiana’s technology-related economy. FORUM Solutions’ award was based on its 2008 accomplishments, including the sale of an internally developed consumer loan origination software solution, TAPS Lending; a communication infrastructure upgrade; and new product offerings. FORUM Solutions serves the technology needs of FORUM CU and creates solutions for the credit union industry. FORUM CU, Indianapolis, has $1 billion in assets ... * LINDEN, N.J. (5/22/09)--Integrated Media Management (IMM), a document-output management and automation-technology provider, reported a 36.6% increase of TotaleAtlasWeb remote signing events from fourth quarter 2008 to the present quarter. TotaleAtlasWeb is a remote signature-capture and secure document-delivery solution that allows users to conduct business anywhere at any time. The solution also is “green” because it allows financial institutions, including credit unions, to conduct business online, according to John Levy, IMM executive vice president. Chuck Klein, IMM CEO, said the solution eliminates courier costs and paper. Credit unions reporting substantial growth in TotaleAtlastWeb activity include: Aspire FCU, Clark, N.J.; TruWest FCU, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Resource One CU, Dallas; and Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H. ...

QwickRate grows CU subscriber base 20

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ATLANTA (5/21/09)--QwickRate announced it has grown its credit union subscriber base by 20% in the past year and has helped boost marketplace transaction volume by 200%. The QwickRate marketplace is a forum for credit unions to connect with pre-screened banks nationwide and identify investment opportunities--without incurring third-party, rate stripping or broker fees. Subscribers have increased their returns on each share certificate investment by 30 to 90 basis points, QwickRate said. About 94% of its member credit unions also renewed their subscriptions to QwickRate last year, the company added. QuickRate’s QuickTools aim to eliminate paperwork and automate the investment process. “We are saving time and money, and are maintaining greater control over the investment process,” said Karen Gilliam-Brown, vice president and chief financial officer, USA One National CU, Matteson, Ill. QuickRate has about 2,500 members so far.

PSCU Financial to launch small-biz-market white papers

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (5/20/09)--Tight credit and faltering banks have created an environment for credit unions to focus on the small-business market. To that end, PSCU Financial Services will develop a series of free white papers to define the opportunity presented by small businesses, and provide credit unions with the tools and guidance to address small businesses’ needs. The educational materials will be available on the company’s website, and are designed to support the entire credit union industry, not just the cooperative’s member-owners. “Given the current instability among larger financial institutions, credit unions represent a safe harbor for small businesses and a compelling alternative to traditional banks,” said David J. Serlo, president, PSCU Financial Services. “Credit unions benefit from this relationship since small businesses tend to thrive during recessions and require multiple financial services. Owners also tend to be very loyal to the primary financial institution that helped them grow their business.” The first paper, “The Small Business Opportunity,” describes small business owners as super consumers who seek multiple services for their personal and business finances--including credit and debit cards, online bill payment, checking, savings, 401K retirement plans and other services. The second paper will help credit unions create a customized program for small businesses that manages risk and includes measurement tools. PSCU Financial Services, based in St. Petersburg, Fla, is a credit union service organization that serves more than 1,300 financial institutions nationwide.

ID Theft Red Flags among new titles in on-demand training

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MADISON, Wis. (5/20/09)--Credit unions can learn the appropriate steps to detect and respond to identity theft red flags with an upcoming new release in the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) series of on-demand training for credit union staff and managers. Identity Theft: Red Flags Training on Demand helps credit unions ensure they have policies and procedures to appropriately respond to red flags to prevent and mitigate identity theft. The course explains the relationship among the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA), new regulations regarding red flags, and steps the credit union must take to comply. Each downloadable Training on Demand package consists of a 30-45 minute video-like training presentation, printable workbooks and five online exams for testing. The presentations can be saved to a computer, DVD, or USB for unlimited use. CUNA plans to expand its library of Training on Demand for staff and managers with several additional titles throughout the year, including:
* Plastic Card Fraud--outlines the common schemes involving card fraud and provides advice to help credit unions educate and protect their members; * Right to Financial Privacy Act--provides an overview of the background and requirements of the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which requires government agencies to provide notice and opportunity to object before requiring a financial institution to disclose personal financial information to a government agency, usually for law enforcement purposes; * Balancing the Drawer--introduces cash-handling techniques for an organized cash drawer, methods for counting and strapping cash, cash drawer balancing basics, and methods for avoiding typical balancing errors. Internal controls and applicable federal fraud protection laws also are covered; * Loss Mitigation--provides expertise on the importance of loss mitigation and how it can be mutually beneficial to credit unions and members; * ACH Compliance and IAT Implementation--explains the new International ACH Transaction (IAT) rules from the National Automated Clearing House (ACH) Association that allow credit unions to identify all international payments flowing through the ACH Network. In addition to the new rules, which take effect Sept. 18, the course examines IAT’s relationship to the Office of Foreign Asset Control and the measures credit unions must take to comply; * Avoiding False Identification, Counterfeiting, and Other Scams--helps credit unions identify and prevent major losses related to false identification, counterfeit items and other scams; and * The Credit Union Difference--reveals the distinct advantages that credit unions offer over other financial institutions. The session helps participants better understand the credit union difference, the “people helping people” philosophy, the reasons for credit unions’ tax-exempt status, and the unique membership rights.
For more information, use the links.

CUSN MeridianLink partner to connect members to CUs

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COSTA MESA, Calif. (5/20/09)--Credit Union Service Network (CUSN) has partnered with MeridianLink to offer XpressAccounts, an automated, new-member application and account opening program. With XpressAccounts, potential members can apply for and fund a new account on their personal computers. XpressAccounts also offers a cross-sales advantage for credit unions, said Edward Guerin, MeridianLink vice president of credit union development. “When someone applies for membership or opens an account online through XpressAccounts, the system is set up to read and integrate live credit data, which can be used to qualify the member for additional financial products automatically,” he said. XpressAccounts can be integrated with any core processor, the companies said. Based in Costa Mesa, Calif., MeridianLink is a provider of enterprise business solutions. CUSN, Lakewood, Colo., provides shared-branching services to credit unions and their members nationwide.

7-Eleven Vcom shared-branch transactions up 43

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (5/19/09)--Use of 7-Eleven Vcom kiosks for shared-branching transactions is up 43% from a year ago, and transaction surges have been as high as 9% each week since December, Financial Service Centers Cooperative said. The kiosks can be accessed 24 hours per day, seven days a week--which largely contributes to the high transaction volume, according to Bonnie Kramer, FSCC executive vice president. The units are used the most on Fridays and Saturdays, she added. “Members need access to their accounts when it is convenient for them and that does not always coincide with typical financial institution hours,” she said. Credit unions that have closed branches also have directed members to the Vcoms. The units are “virtual commerce” kiosks, which means members can perform any financial transaction they could at a credit union branch. FSCC deployed shared-branching services on Vcom units in 2007.

SEDONAs clients see 6 increase in new member retention

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KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (5/19/09)--SEDONA Corp. has introduced a new customer relationship management (CRM) and member relationship management (MRM) solution to help credit unions acclimate new members. CRM and MRM help automate new member boarding processes so staff members can focus on serving members instead of administrative tasks. Credit unions often experience a “honeymoon period” with new members, in which the credit union works to secure its newly formed financial relationship. The first few weeks and months of the new relationship are critical, SEDONA said. “It can take up to six years to recoup the cost of acquiring a new credit union member,” said Matt Keegan, SEDONA regional sales executive. About 58% of credit unions surveyed by Aite Group indicated they are experiencing growth due to new members. CRM and MRM have helped credit union clients experience up to 6% in new member retention, SEDONA said. SEDONA is based in King of Prussia, Pa.

15 recertified with financial counselor designation

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MADISON, Wis. (5/18/09)--Fifteen credit union professionals were recertified for their financial counselor designation by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) during April. The Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) designation requires recertification every three years to ensure knowledge in the area remains current, said CUNA. To be recertified, designees must accumulate 30 hours of financial counseling training within the three-year period and pass a recertification exam. This can be completed by attending CUNA's Certified Financial Counselor School: Advanced, or by completing the self-study Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) Recertification Module. Among the individuals recertified are two staffers with CUNA's Center for Personal Finance: Susan Tiffany, director of personal finance information for adults, and Lin M. Standke, manager of youth programs. For a complete list of those recertified, use the link.

Pressing Compliance Issues audio conference is Thursday

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MADISON, Wis. (5/18/09)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is conducting an audio conference Thursday on “Pressing Credit Union Compliance Issues.” The conference will address current hot compliance topics and give participants a heads up on pending regulation. On the call will be a panel of experts from CUNA Washington and guest speakers. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions about the topics discussed. CUNA is adding a session to the conference dealing with what the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) does at its Thursday morning meetings on finalizing Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) accuracy rules, acording to Kathy Thompson, CUNA senior vice president and associate general counsel. Also discussed will be what the recent court ruling on unrelated business income tax means to credit unions. The conference will have two parts. Part I: Areas Currently Requiring Special Attention by Credit Unions will tell participants how to:
* Find out the impact of the Fed's final Reg Z open-end credit rule on multi-featured open-end lending plans; * Learn how the National Automated Clearing House (ACH) International ACH Transaction Rule will aid in compliance with Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations; * Get an update on recent guidance issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network - FIN-2009-G001: the 50% annual gross revenue limitation for Phase II exemptions; and FIN-2009-A001: Reporting Loan Modification/Foreclosure Rescue Scams on the suspicious activity report; * Determine what examiners expect to find in a credit union's disaster recovery and business continuity program; * Learn about Reg Z's new disclosure requirements for mortgage loans (effective July 30); * Review amendments to Reg Z advertising rules for mortgage loans (effective Oct. 1); * Question-and-answer period on the topics covered in Part I.
Part II: Quick Overview of Other Compliance Issues Coming Down the Pike will cover:
* Overdrafts:
* Fed's final and NCUA's proposed amendments to Truth in Savings regulations on overdraft protection; * Fed’s proposed amendments to Reg E addressing overdrafts resulting from ATM and debit card transactions;
* Credit Cards:
* Fed's proposed amendments to open-end credit rules under Reg Z; * The NCUA's proposed amendments to the Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices Rule; * Credit card legislation;
* Mortgages:
* Mortgage reform legislation; * Possible suspension of new Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act rules;
* Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA):
* Federal Trade Commission enforcement delay of the identity theft red flags rule; * Status of FACTA accuracy and direct dispute regulations;
*Other notable legislative and regulatory developments:
* Deposit insurance, Internet gambling, Community Reinvestment Act, mortgage staff registration, and more; * Question-and-answer period on the topics covered in Part II.
For more information, use the link.

CUSWIRL.com provides shared-branch database

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (5/18/09)--CUSWIRL.com will allow credit union members to locate roughly 5,700 shared-branching locations, according to Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC). FSCC announced the launch of CUSWIRL Thursday. The site helps members locate shared-branching sites, including 2,200 participating 7-Eleven locations. The 7-Eleven locations use Vcom units, which are virtual commerce ATMs that allow users to perform any transaction they could do in their credit union branch. “The growth we have seen at Vcom units demonstrates the growing comfort members have with this kind of technology,” said FSCC Vice President of Marketing Nathan Rogers. Any credit union offering shared branching can link to CUSWIRL.com, FSCC said. FSCC credit unions also can request a download of all locations to put on their websites. FSCC is a credit union Shared Branching Network that provides services to credit union members nationwide and abroad.

Workers-comp company disburses 1 M to members

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/15/09)--C-U First Ltd., a credit union workers' compensation program, is providing a safe haven of sorts as workers' compensation rates climb in California. The program starts its sixth underwriting year after returning an additional $1 million to its policyholders in 2008. For the first two policy terms, the program returned 33% of premium to date. In addition to policyholder returns, program members also experienced a 64% decrease in the premium rate since the program's inception in 2004. The C-U First Insurance Program chooses the loss control specialist and third-party claims administrator, allowing members to manage and control their workers' compensation losses. Artex Risk Solutions administers the captive and domicile management. Gallagher Bassett provides claims management and loss control services. Claims and loss control services are critical, and the program's average loss ratio is 19.5%, according to the California Credit Union League. "Discover Re, a Travelers Company, provides the insurance policies and the excess re-insurance portion of the program," said Sylvia Fath, league senior vice president of business services. Fath noted Travelers is highly rated by several national rating organizations including A.M. Best Co. "At this critical time, with the viability of insurance companies in question, it's beneficial for C-U First to be associated with such a highly rated organization," Fath said.

CU Acceptance Co. now CU Alliance LLC

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HOUSTON (5/15/09)--CU Alliance LLC is the new holding company for the Credit Union Acceptance Co. (CUAC LLC), Member Home Loan, CU Alliance Marketing, Member Auto Center and Member Auto Sales. The credit union service organization (CUSO) was formed in 1998 and provides indirect lending, mortgage, car sales and car-buying programs. "This new entity, tied with credit union collaborative efforts, offers us the flexibility we need to develop new products and services even more efficiently for the credit union industry," said Adrian Dominguez, CEO of CU Alliance LLC. CUAC LLC provides full and a la carte service indirect lending to more than 150 credit unions. Studies show that 89% of all auto financing deals are closed at the dealership. CUAC recaptures an average of 30,000 member loans and funds nearly $675 million dollars annually, said the CUSO. Member Home Loan specializes in outsourcing comprehensive mortgage solutions. The turn-key mortgage program offers a cost-effective opportunity to generate revenue, control or reduce expense, and enhance member relationships. Member Auto Center supplies the credit union with member shippers by providing an online car-buying experience. Member Auto Sales is a credit union-owned retail car sales outlet, developed to help decrease loan losses by retailing repossessions directly to consumers. It provides consumers with an alternative to the traditional haggle and hassle associated with purchasing a pre-owned vehicle. CU Alliance Marketing provides print, Web, and e-mail marketing solutions to complement traditional marketing strategies.

OpenClose Memberclose offer mortgage software for CUs

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (5/15/09)--OpenClose Mortgage Software, a developer of Web-based, end-to-end, loan origination software, announced Thursday that it has partnered with MemberClose to promote its new MemberAssist credit union software in the Northeast. MemberClose, a service of Marlborough, Mass.-based Members Insurance Agency LLC, provides Web-based, bundled settlement solutions for credit union mortgage and equity loans. Through its partnership with OpenClose, MemberClose will offer a suite of mortgage services creating one integrated system from marketing loans to post-closing support. MemberClose’s settlement services will pull loan data directly from MemberAssist and allow credit unions to determine what services they need to complete the loan on a case-by-case basis. These services include credit reporting, appraisal services, title insurance and document preparations. MemberAssist includes a member-facing mortgage website that integrates with credit union software and an existing website. It provides 24/7 access to a credit union’s mortgage programs plus educational sources--including calculators, newsletter articles, and other reference material. Credit union members can browse products and rates, request more information, complete a “Quick App” and fill out a complete 1003 mortgage application. The new MemberAssist product fully integrates with OpenClose’s new AssistSeries, a recently released suite of mortgage products, allowing credit unions to add-on additional features to build an enterprise level, full mortgage solution. Additional services such as credit reporting, appraisal services, title insurance and document preparations can also be added.

TMG responds to TNB card portfolio sale

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DES MOINES, Iowa (5/14/09)--The sale of Town North Bank (TNB)'s credit union card portfolio to Elan Financial Services means that TMG Financial Services of Des Moines is the only "true credit-union-owned credit card portfolio partner serving the credit union industry," says TMG. Town North Bank announced Tuesday it had sold its portfolio to Elan, which is U.S. Bank's credit union portfolio-buying arm. Elan bought 140,000 accounts from TNB with balances of $300 million among its 168 credit union partners. "TMG Financial Services has been a successful endeavor because of the collaboration we receive from credit unions who strongly believe that credit union credit card relationships should remain in the industry," said TMG President/CEO Jeff Russell, who is also chief information officer and vice president of strategic development. "Our unique business model allows credit unions that don't want to sell their portfolios the opportunity to participate as well by investing in our Collateralized Advance Program for the good of the industry," Russell added. "It is now more important than ever that, as an industry, credit unions offer a sound solution for those financial institutions that are looking to sell their portfolio to a partner with credit union values." TMG Financial Services manages 20 credit card portfolio partnerships with more than 15,000 accounts and $30 million in receivables. It is pursuing deals to close by the end of the year equaling $150 million in receivables, the company said.

Digital Insight extends Metavantes role in online BPP

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CALABASAS, Calif. and MILWAUKEE (5/14/09)--Digital Insight and Metavante have signed three new agreements, including one to offer Digital Insight’s online personal financial management solution, FinanceWorks, as an optional component within Metavante’s eBanking solutions. FinanceWorks gives consumers visibility and control over their spending by accessing account information from more than 5,000 financial institutions and credit card sites. The tool, powered by Quicken and launched last fall, allows users to see their cash flow and how future deposits and bills will affect their balances. The second agreement renews a long-term marketing arrangement to promote increased adoption and use of Metavante’s online bill presentment and payment products among Digital Insight’s clients. The upgraded online bill solution offers a single-view landing page with billing, payee and quick-pay information for consumers to review. A third agreement extends a June 2005 arrangement that makes Digital Insight’s consumer Internet Banking and Business Banking solutions the exclusive third-party products to be resold to financial institutions that use Bankway, Metavante’s licensed core processing solution. Digital Insight is a division of Intuit Inc. and provides online banking services to credit unions and banks. Metavante delivers banking and payment technologies to financial services firms and businesses worldwide.

Innovation as Industry Focus paper offered by councils

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MADISON, Wis. (5/14/09)--Credit union professionals can learn how to take innovation from a buzzword and develop it into a core competency in a new all-CUNA Councils white paper. To be truly innovative, an organization needs to provide innovation at every point of the organizational compass, in all aspects of business, and among every employee. “Innovation as an Industry Focus” discusses what it takes to be innovative, including embracing innovation as a core competency. The paper also addresses looking at innovation as part idea, part state of mind and strategy, or fine-tuning what is already in use. Credit unions have a reputation--deserved or not--for being slow to board the innovation train. Many credit unions are innovative, but that sluggish perception still persists in the marketplace, the paper said. “Regulators and boards of directors often fail to reward risk; they are content to see credit unions overcapitalized and safe as many are today. Being content and overly cautious is an unwise strategy in today’s market. Predictions of 4,000 credit unions remaining in five to 10 years from now are an argument against being overly cautious,” the paper said. In a separate news item, The Conference Board reported Wednesday that innovation is critical to economic recovery and U.S. competitiveness (Lonestar Leaguer May 13). “Going forward, an economy’s competitive edge will depend on its ability to maintain a superior talent pool and knowledge base, along with an environment that encourages and rewards new ideas, products and processes,” said Bart Van Ark, board chief economist. For more information about the councils’ white paper, use the link.

CUDL Prime Alliance webcasts focus Auto mortgage loans

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ONTARIO, Calif. (5/13/09)--Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) and Prime Alliance will offer a series of educational webcasts about auto and mortgage lending marketplaces starting May 28. The 11 webcasts will focus on issues ranging from portfolio management strategies to risk management and collections, and best practices in marketing. Themes for the CUDL webcasts include:
* Capitalizing on Being a Credit Union in Today’s Marketplace; * Best Practices in Risk Management and Dealer Relations; * Best Practices for Marketing to Members and for Marketing the AutoSMART program; and * Credit Trends--Underneath the Economic Rhetoric--Practice Information for Lending Strategies.
Themes for the Prime Alliance webcasts include:
* Lend Your Way Out; * Thriving in 2009’s Mortgage Market; * Managing Growth and Capital Using the Secondary Markets; and * Portfolio Risk Analysis.

PULSE MoneyPass launch surcharge-free ATM network

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HOUSTON (5/13/09)--PULSE, an ATM/debit network, has launched PULSE Select, a surcharge-free ATM network alliance with the MoneyPass Network. Financial institutions participating in the PULSE Select program will add their ATMs to the MoneyPass network. The network will provide access to more than 16,000 surcharge-free ATMs. The ATMs are located a credit unions and other financial institutions, grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants nationwide. Typically, cardholders who use an ATM not owned or operated by their financial institution are charged fees ranging from $1.50 to $3 per transaction, PULSE said. PULSE is owned by Discover Financial Services.

Pandemic plan is topic of Fridays audio conference

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MADISON, Wis. (5/12/09)--Credit unions can stay ahead of possible H1N1 swine flu issues by creating thorough, quickly implemented pandemic plans with advice from a new Credit Union National Association audio conference Friday. Friday’s Pandemic Planning--Is Your Plan Ready to Go? At 1 p.m. CDT will help credit unions prepare for business with a skeleton crew at a moment’s notice. The audio conference will discuss what is critical in the pandemic portion of a credit union’s business continuity plans and how to quickly put plans into action that will keep staff safe while continuing to provide service to members. The difference between pandemic plans and other disaster plans also will be covered. Based on credit union feedback, CUNA also selected topics for a May 21 “Pressing Credit Union Compliance Issues” audio conference. The agenda is divided into two parts, to address immediate and upcoming issues, and to allow participants to ask questions about the topics discussed after each section. Among the features in Part I:
* Impact from the Federal Reserve’s final Regulation Z open-end credit rule on multi-featured open-end lending plans; * How the National Automated Clearing House Association's (NACHA) International ACH Transaction Rule will help credit unions comply with Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations; * Update on Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s FIN-2009-G001(the 50% annual gross revenue limitation for phase II exemptions), and FIN-2009-A00 (reporting loan modification/foreclosure rescue scams on the suspicious activity report); * Examiner issues with credit unions’ disaster recovery and business continuity programs; * New Regulation Z disclosure requirements for mortgage loans, effective July 30; and * Regulation Z amendments to advertising rules for mortgage loans, effective Oct. 1.
Part II will explore proposed amendments and notable legislative and regulatory developments on overdrafts, credit cards, mortgages, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, deposit insurance, Internet gambling and the Community Reinvestment Act. For more information, use the links.

CO-OP Financial Services launches market-segment module

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/12/09)--CO-OP Financial Services has released a market-segmenting module of CO-OP Revelation that aims to increase credit unions’ marketing effectiveness. With the tool--Usage Analytics Plus--credit unions can track and analyze cardholder transaction data and find patterns to better understand their members, CO-OP said in a release. The tool can identify heavy personal information number users at certain merchants or determine recent cards issued that haven’t been activated. Credit unions using the module also said it is beneficial for analyzing potential fraud, CO-OP added. Usage Analytics Plus will be offered free this month and in June to full debit-processing clients. CO-OP Financial Services is a credit union service organization that offers debit, credit and ATM processing. It also has a network of 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs for participating credit unions nationwide.

CU Student Choice nets collaborationinnovation award

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LAS VEGAS (5/11/09)--Credit Union Student Choice, a credit union service organization that facilitates lending between credit unions and college students, received the 2009 Collaboration and Innovation Award from the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) last week. NACUSO presented the award to Credit Union Student Choice at its annual conference in Las Vegas. The award recognizes organizations that demonstrate leadership, critical thinking, creativity and innovation to further the credit union movement. Credit Union Student choice has approved $50 million in private student loans since May 2008. More than 60 credit unions nationwide have partnered with the organization to help more than 2,500 students. “Students deserve honest, cost-effective solutions” from institutions that are trustworthy and have their best interests in mind, according to Scott Patterson, Credit Union Student Choice vice president. The award is testament to the organization’s business model, which aims to help credit unions thrive in the tough economic environment, added Credit Union Student Choice President Jon Jeffreys. TMG Financial Services was also honored with NACUSO’s Collaboration and Innovation Award at the conference (News Now May 7).

Products and Services briefs (05/07/2009)

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* GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/8/09)--Xtend, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based credit union service organization (CUSO), has begun providing call center services for credit union partners in Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, D.C. The three most recent credit unions to deploy Xtend’s resources are Massachusetts State Employees CU, Boston; Harris County FCU, Houston; and District Government Employees FCU, Washington, D.C. Xtend provides contact center services through Xtension to 22 credit unions in eight states and the District of Columbia, and four CUSOs in three states. Xtend provides managerial, operational, marketing, technical planning and consulting services to credit unions ... * PORTLAND, Ore. (5/8/09)--CU Business Group has partnered with its 300th credit union, Air Academy FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., to provide the credit union business underwriting services. Air Academy FCU also is CU Business Group’s first credit union partner from Colorado. CU Business Group also announced that it reviewed more than $500 million in business loans and signed 35 new credit unions in 2008. It also signed on 17 new credit unions this year and received more than $163 million in loan packages for underwriting from January through March--a 13% increase over the same period last year. CU Business Group is based in Portland, Ore. ... * GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/8/09)--WESCO Net, manager of CU*Answers electronic document network, announced that it has reached the 12 million online-records mark. “[The record] is significant because it gives an idea of the scalability of the solution,” said Dave Wordhouse of WESCO Net. The company also recently invested in additional hardware, including an expanded storage environment plus upgraded application and database servers. The digital documents network is produced as a part of CU*Answers’ core data processor, which serves credit unions ...

CUAnswers project includes online voting system

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/8/09)--CU*Answers announced a project that would create an online voting system so credit unions can set up ballots in the CU*BASE core processor and allow members to vote online after logging into online banking. The idea is to create a “simple, inexpensive way for credit unions to gather votes from members on things like board elections, proposals or for an annual meeting,” the company said. CU*Answers also will develop a CU*BASE tool for authorized users to enter results of paper ballots to be tallied with online votes. The configuration will include controls that prevent ballots from being changed, the ability to clear results from a previous election. Members also will be prevented from voting more than once or if they are not eligible for a particular election. CU*Answers is a credit union service organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich.

ALM First signs alliance with Sacher Consulting

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DALLAS (5/7/09)--ALM First Financial Advisors has formed a strategic alliance with Sacher Consulting. The partnership will benefit development of and enhance ALM First’s products and services, the company said in a release Monday. ALM First is an advisory firm for credit unions. Sacher Consulting was launched by Mike Sacher, certified public accountant. ALM First plans to draw from Sacher’s insights to enhance its product areas, such as its Mortgage Servicing Rights program. Recent accounting changes and new compliance standards facing credit unions also make the alliance timely, said the companies. “Accounting pronouncements continue to evolve toward the fair-value model,” Sacher said. “New merger accounting rules will require significant fair-value analysis. ALM First is all about fair value.” In addition to consulting, Sacher was recently a partner in charge of the Los Angeles office of McGladrey and Pullen’s National Credit Union Division, where he oversaw delivery of audit and consulting services to more than 150 credit unions annually.

Member Business Services Biz loans remain strong

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/7/09)--Member Business Services (MBS), a credit union service organization (CUSO) owned by the California Credit Union League and five California credit unions, reported that its business loan portfolio and business deposits under management grew during the first quarter. MBS’ loan portfolio totaled $224.5 million under management--an increase of 19%, or $10.2 million--from year-end 2008. Business deposits increased by $18.2 million during the same period “Despite the economic slowdown, small business lending and business deposits have continued to expand,” said Scott Burger, MBS president/CEO. “As banks have curtailed their lending, small businesses have gravitated toward credit unions that can be selective and provide a new source of funding.” Year-end delinquency was reported at 0.47% and first quarter delinquency increased to 1.07%. Business loan submissions for the year reached an all-time high in 2008 with 699 loans submitted, totaling $294.4 million. The CUSO ended 2008 with a loan portfolio of $214.6 million under management--a 32% increase over 2007. Business deposits grew 18.3% over 2007 levels. Members Business Services was founded by San Bernardino-based Arrowhead CU in 2003. MBS now counts CoastHills FCU, Lompoc; SCE FCU, Irwindale; USA FCU, San Diego; and USC CU, Los Angeles, as partners.

TMG Financial Services honored at NACUSO conference

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LAS VEGAS (5/7/09)--TMG Financial Services was honored Monday at the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) annual conference in Las Vegas. NACUSO’s “Collaboration and Innovation Award” was presented to TMG. Criteria for the award were based on:
* Thought leadership and critical thinking; * Creating value using collaboration; * Innovation in organizational design; * Innovation in implementation and execution; and * Delivering results, outcomes and performances.
TMG Financial Services manages 20 credit card portfolio partnerships, with more than 20,000 credit union accounts and $30 million in receivables. NACUSO’s conference ended Wednesday.

First quarter income at Diebold totals 4.4 million

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (5/6/09)--First-quarter income at Diebold totaled $4.4 million, a 70% drop compared with first quarter 2008, the ATM manufacturer reported Tuesday. First-quarter revenue was $663.2 million, also down 4% from first quarter 2008. The first quarter figures indicate that Diebold was not immune to unprecedented economic challenges during that time, according to Thomas Swidarski, Diebold president/CEO. “As the quarter progressed, the earlier weakness in orders that we had experienced in Eastern Europe, Russia and the regional bank segment of the U.S. became more precipitous,” he said. “The market weakness, which occurred in some of our most profitable business sectors, has forced us to reduce our revenue and earnings expectations for full year 2009.” Diebold has tried to reduce costs through cutting travel, administrative and operating expenses. It also eliminated 300 full-time positions, Swidarski said. “We continue to focus on services as a key component in our long-term growth strategy,” he added. Diebold also noted that it recorded a charge of $25 million for the period resulting from a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). On Monday, Diebold said it had reached an agreement with the SEC in principle to settle civil charges stemming from the staff’s pending enforcement inquiry. The agreement remains subject to the final approval of the SEC, and there can be no assurance that the SEC will accept the terms of the settlement negotiated, Diebold noted.

Diebold reaches agreement with SEC

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (5/6/09)--ATM manufacturer Diebold Inc. has reached an agreement in principle with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges stemming from a staff investigation. The SEC will not bring charges against the company in connection with the transactions and accounting issues subject to SEC’s investigation. However, Diebold will pay a $25 million penalty and agree to an injunction against committing or causing any violations or future violations of certain specified provisions of federal securities laws. On March 26, News Now reported that Diebold was working with the SEC and could enter into a settlement agreement. Kevin Krakora, Diebold executive vice president and chief financial officer, and other employees received Wells notices from the SEC indicating that Diebold may have violated provisions of federal securities laws. Krakora stepped down from his role when he received the Wells notice. Diebold said he would serve in a non-financial reporting capacity until the matter is resolved.

ByDesign merges with Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions

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ONTARIO, Calif. (5/5/09)--Counseling agency ByDesign Financial Solutions has partnered with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions as of Friday. ByDesign is a business partner of the California Credit Union League. ClearPoint, based in Virginia, is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The merger allows California credit unions and those in Nevada to tap into increased counseling opportunities for their members, according to Sylvia Fath, senior vice president of business services with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. ByDesign’s Los Angeles office will become ClearPoint’s Pacific Region office. ByDesign will continue offering in-person counseling and workshops statewide in California. The expanded organization will offer counseling in more than 50 offices in 11 states.

Fiserv looking to international market for growth

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BROOKFIELD, Wis. (5/5/09)--International markets could offer Fiserv Inc. more chances to grow, according to Fiserv President/CEO Jeffrey W. Yabuki. On a conference call last week, Yabuki noted that his company is looking to increase organic growth and indicated that it could seek more acquisitions because the market is saturated (American Banker May 4). Fiserv also is hoping to benefit on Fidelity National Information Service’s acquisition of Metavante Technologies, which is set to close next quarter, Yabuki said. Given today’s competitive landscape, Fiserv had expected that people would ‘come together’ to try and emulate what Fiserv has done, he added. Fiserv bought CheckFree Corp. of Atlanta a year and a half ago. Last week’s conference call focused on Fiserv’s first-quarter earnings, which dropped 69% to $103 million. Revenue dropped 20% to $1.04 billion.

VINtek revenues up 183 over 1Q 2008

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PHILADELPHIA (5/4/09)--VINtek, which provides automotive collateral management services and direct auto finance solutions for credit unions and other automotive finance lenders, announced today that during the first quarter its revenues rose 183% over first quarter 2008. More than 700 lenders nationwide employ VINtek's automotive collateral management line. Customers range in size from small community-based credit unions to some of the largest commercial banks in the nation, the company said. "Automotive lenders realize the critical importance of perfecting their liens on automotive collateral given their concern over increased repossession forecasts," said Larry Highbloom, VINtek president. "This concern extends beyond consumer automotive finance, as evidenced by an engagement we recently concluded to file liens on more than 100,000 pieces of rolling stock of a trucking company that serve as collateral for a large revolving credit line with one of the nation's top commercial banks. Our products manage risk and reduce operating costs meeting two of the top priorities of lenders in the current economic environment," Highbloom said. Among its collateral management services are Electronic Lien and Title (ELT) technology, a "green" initiative that replaces paper titles with digital data for lienholders and business process outsource (BPO) administration of automotive collateral.

Maine shared branching tops 100 branches

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WESTBROOK, Maine (5/4/09)--Maine Credit Unions’ Shared Branching Network announced that coverage has been expanded to include Aroostook County, giving the network statewide coverage. The addition of Aroostook County includes 11 new locations with Acadia FCU, Fort Kent; NorState FCU, Madawaska; and The County FCU, Caribou, joining the network and bringing the total number of locations in Maine to more than 105. The shared branching network gives the nearly 415,000 members of participating Maine credit unions access to nearly twice as many branches as any other financial institution in the state, said the Maine Credit Union League. John Murphy, league president, explained that the expansion of shared branching in Maine is another example of how Maine credit unions work to bring convenience to their members. “In today’s economic climate, the opportunity to save travel time, effort and fuel through accessing a nearby shared branching location is extremely valuable, especially from a convenience standpoint, to credit union members,” he said.