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CUs In Pa., Fla., Reporting Card Scams

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/13)--Credit unions in Pennsylvania and Florida reported debit and credit card scams last week.
 
In Pennsylvania, roughly 100 members from Mercer County Community FCU and PennStar FCU, both of Hermitage, unwittingly provided their account numbers or debit card personal identification numbers to scammers Thursday.
 
Members received phone messages informing them that something was wrong with their accounts and asking for account numbers or personal identification numbers, Jerry Miller, Mercer County FCU director of lending, told The Herald (July 13). The message informed members if they didn't provide the information, their accounts would be shut down.
 
On Friday, both credit unions were inundated with calls from members who realized they had been scammed. It was unknown how scammers gained access to members' phone numbers.
 
In Florida, Keys FCU of Key West, reported as many as five debit or credit card thefts per day, instead of the usual one per week, reported The Key West Citizen (July 13).
 
Cards are most often compromised at local gas stations, said Scott Duszynski, Keys FCU president/CEO. The amounts withdrawn on the cards appear to be small and within the local area, he told the newspaper.
 
Duszynski advised victims to file police reports. Members should closely monitor their accounts, he said.
 
Once a card number has been stolen, it can be used in the same manner as the actual card, the Federal Trade Commission said.

NEW: Poll Finds CUs Favored Among Financially Savvy

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LOS ANGELES (7/17/13 UPDATED 10:30 a.m. CT)--Financially savvy consumers overwhelmingly choose credit unions as their preferred institutions, says a new GoBankingRates.com poll, and that is no surprise, says Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.
 
"For users of financial services, it's all about trust--and the credit union model, as a cooperative operating on a not-for-profit basis with no shareholders--engenders the trust among consumers and small business customers," he told GoBankingRates.com (July 17).
 
Among those polled on the GoBankingRates.com site and its partner sites--US News, Boston.com, AL.com and The City Wire--more than 73.76% of poll respondents choose credit unions as their preferred institutions. Local community banks distantly followed, being preferred by 14.18%, with national banks preferred by 9.93%, and other institutions by 2.13%.
 
The publication also featured an explanation by Andrew Schrage, personal finance journalist and co-owner of blog Money Crashers Personal Finance, who noted he used to have an account at a national financial institution but pulled it when he ran into bad customer service.  Like 2.2 million other banking customers since 2011, he moved his money to a credit union.
 
Credit unions still have workd to do, however. A more general survey found that credit unions are still a long way to becoming the average person's primary financial institution, said GoBankingRates.com's poll of more general consumers.
 
That's all the more reason for credit unions to Unite for Good by providing service excellence, raising awareness about the benefits of credit unions and eliminating barriers--such as banks' attacks on credit unions' tax-exempt status and their attempts to limit credit unions' ability to offer member business loans, said CUNA.  This three-pronged campaign is working toward credit unions' shared strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."
 
Use the links to access the GoBankingRates.com article and learn more about the Unite for Good campaign.

CU Tech Spending Goes To Mobile, Online Banking

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/13)--More than $2.06 trillion will be invested across software, hardware and information technology (IT)  services by businesses and governments this year, with the U.S. accounting for the most spending and software getting the most funds, said Forrester Research's annual IT spending study. For credit unions, tech spending will continue to focus on mobile and online banking technology to meet rising consumer demand and further engage members.
 
Credit unions budgeted on average nearly $125,000 toward online and mobile banking this year--a combined expense second only to core processing systems, according to the 2013-2014 CUNA Technology Spending Report, which surveyed credit unions with assets of $50 million or more.
 
That figure represents about one-fifth of credit unions' average IT budget of $642,797, which doesn't reflect employees' salary or benefits. That ratio holds true among even credit unions with assets of $500 million or more, which on average budgeted $2,055,287 for IT expenses for 2013, said the CUNA report.
 
About 60% of credit unions indicate that their budgeted IT expenditures for 2013 outpace their 2012 expenditures to some extent, with 17% budgeting double-digit increases.
 
Among the 24 IT areas examined in CUNA's report, credit unions clearly have earmarked the greatest levels of 2013 funding to supporting their core processing systems, at $185,000 on average.
 
Among emerging technologies, roughly 60% of credit unions intend to offer mobile/image deposit capture, mobile payments and wallets, and smart cards/EuroMasterCardVisa chip cards by 2015.
 
Credit unions also expressed strong interest in adding remote deposit capture, person-to-person payments, instant card issue, online account opening, secured email, member/customer relationship management and envelope-free acceptance of deposits.
 
Credit Union Magazine will publish more information on credit unions' technology spending plans for the rest of this year and 2014 in its October issue.
 
Globally, businesses and government will spend the largest share--$542 billion--on software, including middle ware, custom-built software, applications and operating systems, said Forrester's report.
 
IT outsourcing and hardware maintenance will account for $411 billion of their tech spending. That includes computer hardware support services, networks and other outsourcing, infrastructure outsourcing, hosting, application outsourcing, and application management.
 
Computer equipment spending will total $404 billion, with personal computers having the biggest share--$134.2 billion. But Forrester says that is a shrinking market and the biggest growth in 2013 will be in tablets, specifically the iPad.  Tablets will account for $21.1 billion of the equipment budget. Other expenses in this segment include servers, storage, peripherals and "other.
 
IT consulting and systems integration services will account for $389 billion of the tech spending, with strategy and other consulting services getting $156.4 billion and systems integration project work getting $232.8 billion.
 
Communications equipment will make up the fifth largest slide of IT spending, with $322 billion spent on telecommunications and enterprise and Server Message Block protocols.

Mobile Technology Demand Rises, World CU Leaders Told

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OTTAWA, Canada (7/17/13)--As mobile technology's rate of innovation and the rise in consumer demand create uncertainty among financial institutions worldwide, credit unions must consider mobile strategies that are convenient, consolidated and integrated for their members, mobile technology expert and adviser Ian Shelley told a World Credit Union Conference general session audience Monday.
 
Click to view larger image Successful mobile technologies increase convenience, consolidate activities and integrate with other aspects of consumers' daily lives, mobile technology expert Ian Shelley told a World Credit Union Conference general session audience Monday in Ottawa, Canada.
Shelley, who was the keynote speaker at Monday's general session, reinforced that the future of credit union services is mobile commerce. The conference, presented by the World Council of Credit Unions, ends today.
 
He directed his perspectives on opportunities and risks to the credit union movement, stressing the need for financial cooperatives to provide multifunctional, integrated and data-driven mobile payment solutions to satisfy members' needs and to stay relevant in the marketplace.
 
Click to view larger image Credit unions succeed when they provide multiple channels of service for their members, World Council of Credit Unions President/CEO Brian Branch told Monday's general session audience at the World Credit Union Conference. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
 
"Ultimately everyone is going to move toward wanting mobile transactions," Shelley said. "There are more benefits than just the transaction you should think about. The cost of the transaction will be cheaper than any other channel."
 
Credit unions must accept that mobile technology continually will disrupt the payments ecosystem and require adaptation to a new set of competitors, Shelley said. As technology advances, the range of products in the market will consolidate over time. To keep up, credit unions must find their niche and identify the partners who can help them offer mobile channels and products that increase convenience, consolidate activities and integrate with other aspects of members' daily lives.
 
"What you're seeing is integration of pretty much every channel--the integration of everyday life," Shelley said. "It feels as though this is something we can marry together with financial transactions."
 
Credit unions face the same challenges around the world, including consumers' demand for greater convenience and access, which drives the need for credit unions to provide multiple channels of service, according to Monday's opening speaker Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO. Credit unions face the challenge of keeping up with information communication technologies in doing so.
 
"What is so striking is the creativity and innovation in the diversity of answers to these challenges," Branch told the general session audience. "This week at the conference, we will form a global community to share creativity that responds to the changes in technology of communications, payments and commerce."
 
Credit unions in high-growth markets tend to offer access to multiple channels for payments and mobile technology, Branch said. World Council's member organizations and associations list their greatest priorities as regulatory compliance relief and building the capacity of their credit unions to respond to the demand for mobile channels of delivery. As worldwide Internet access rises, mobile transactions will soon overtake online transactions--which overtook branch transactions in recent years.
 
"As the Internet becomes increasingly available, cheaper and faster, transactions and business shift to the Internet and are accessed by mobile devices," Branch said. "According to the International Telecommunication Union, by the end of 2011, one-third of the world population had access to the Internet. By 2015, it projects that 60% of the world population will have Internet access."
 
Monday finished with breakout sessions on leadership and strategy, technology, international credit union experience, advocacy and governmental affairs and innovative solutions. Three of the 10 sessions focused on mobile technology.

CUNA Receives Membership Growth Award At World Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/13)--The Credit Union National Association Monday was recognized with the World Council of Credit Unions' 2013 Outstanding Member Growth Award.
 

Click to view larger image The Credit Union National Association with the World Council of Credit Unions' 2013 Outstanding Member Growth Award at the World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)

The award was presented at the World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada. The conference is presented through today by the World Council.
 
CUNA was honored for achieving its highest membership growth numbers in decades. U.S. credit unions include 96 million members nationwide. The National Credit Union Administration released figures in May that claim the fastest first-quarter loan growth for federally insured credit unions in five years, as well as dramatic membership growth of more than 800,000 new members (News Now May 30).
 
Aided by Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5, 2011, credit unions added nearly 2.2 million new members in the 12-month period ended June 30, 2012, a total that is almost double the 1.2 million average growth credit unions have seen in similar 12-month periods over the previous decade (News Now Nov. 2).
 
Globally, there are 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries, Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO, said in accepting the award.
 
Cheney also shared CUNA's Unite for Good Campaign with the global credit union community.
 
The Unite for Good initiative calls on credit unions to rally in support of a common vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." Achieving the vision requires working toward three key objectives: removing legislative and regulatory barriers that obstruct credit union progress; raising consumer awareness and understanding of credit unions; and fostering movement-wide service excellence.
 
Kenya Union of Savings & Credit Co-operatives (KUSSCCO) was also recognized as a recipient of the World Council's 2013 Outstanding Membership Growth award. KUSCCO received the award for relative membership growth during a period when many countries in the region were experiencing a slowdown in membership growth.
 
Confederacao Interestadual das Cooperativas Ligadas ao Sicredi (SICREDI) was named the 2013 Winner of the World Council of Credit Unions' Outstanding Assets Growth Award. SICREDI received the award for relative asset growth, which reflects quality of service and community commitment of SICREDI credit unions and an aggressive member responsive growth strategy.

Copy That Good Buddy: Use @CUNA To Reach CUNA 'Followers'

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/13)--Are you feeling an urge to tweet and you want to make sure you reach the Credit Union National Association--or CUNA--and all its followers?  Starting immediately and going forward, the old Twitter handle @CUNAverse is being replaced with the shorter and clearer @CUNA.
 
To the uninitiated, a Twitter handle is analogous to the longstanding Citizens Band-radio "handles," that is a call-name that let's everyone know who you want to reach.  Only with a Twitter handle you're dealing with online communications instead of airwaves--and you only have 140 characters to communicate.
 
By using @CUNA, CUNA makes that its primary social media voice on Twitter.  The change is intended to increase CUNA's reach and communications with our wide variety of constituencies.
 
The change will not affect existing followers.

NCUA Appeals Barclays, Credit Suisse Rulings

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/17/13)--The National Credit Union Administration Monday filed a notice to appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals of a Kansas court's rulings in its lawsuits over residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) sold to corporate credit unions by Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse.
 
NCUA filed the notice with the U.S. District Court of Kansas, which on July 10 had dismissed  the Barclays case and dismissed 12 out of 20 claims against Credit Suisse.
 
That--coupled with a California court's granting NCUA an interlocutory appeal Friday of a similar case against Goldman Sachs--helps keep alive the battle of the agency to recoup millions of dollars in losses from the RMBS, which led to the liquidation of U.S. Central FCU in Kansas and the Western Corporate FCU in California.
 
The lower courts had dismissed federal claims related to whether NCUA had filed the lawsuits in time. In a number of similar lawsuits against brokers and underwriters, NCUA argued that an extender statute and a tolling agreement had lengthened the time allowed for it to file the lawsuits, but the California and Kansas courts had ruled the agency did not file certain claims in time.
 
NCUA has argued in the cases that the offering documents for the investments sold to the corporate credit unions "systematically abandoned" underwriting standards and misled the corporates into believing the investments were safer than they actually were.
 
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Kansas is also reviewing the time-barred issues in a separate suit filed against RBS Securities.

CEO Of Phony CU Pleads Not Guilty In Virgin Islands

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ST. THOMAS, V.I. (7/17/13)--The former CEO of Her Majesty's CU, a bogus credit union that was doing business and soliciting investors in Colorado and in the Virgin Islands, pleaded not guilty to charges of obtaining money by false pretenses, conspiracy, embezzlement by fiduciaries, and violating the territory's anti-racketeering statute in a court in Virgin Islands.
 
The pleading by Stan McDuffie--also known as Stan Roberson, Stan Roberson-Battle, and Stanley B. Battle--was in absentia during an arraignment on March 21, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News (March 23). The case has been referred to Virgin Islands Superior Court Judge Adam Christian, said the article.
 
McDuffie, 46, was freed on $50,000 bond and let go after turning in his passport and signing an automatic waiver of extradition, according to the Denver Post (March 15).  The paper reported that the company's comptroller, John Williams, also was charged and was still at large.
 
The credit union is a subsidiary of Jilapuhn Inc. and did business both as Her Majesty's CU and as HMCU, even though it was not insured and it was not chartered by the Colorado Division of Financial Services or the National Credit Union Administration (News Now Nov. 13, 2012).
 
In 2011, NCUA issued a prohibition order against Roberson from future work at any federally insured financial institution (News Now June 3, 2011).
 
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a legal complaint on Nov. 8, 2012,  against the company for offering fraudulent and unregistered "purported certificates of deposits" under the credit union's name. Its complaint said the McDuffie and HMCU used the HMCU website to "lure investors" by CDs with above-market rates. On Feb. 8, McDuffie denied the SEC the allegations and blamed regulators for failures.

Global Women Discuss Advancement As Leaders

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Click to view larger image Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner, discusses women's economic empowerment at the 2013 Global Women's Leadership Forum in Ottawa, Canada.
OTTAWA, Canada (7/17/13)--More than 110 women credit union leaders from 12 countries gathered to discuss the advancement of credit-union women leadership, during the 2013 Global Women's Leadership Forum, Sunday. The event was held in conjunction with World Council of Credit Unions' World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.

Participants heard from keynote speaker Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times bestselling author of  Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and the first Asian-American Pulitzer Prize winner, about women's potential to impact global development.

WuDunn presented research from her book on the varying degrees of women's oppression worldwide. In addition to women's education and jobs, she said that microsavings can provide women with economic empowerment, which is a key to solving gender inequity worldwide.

Click to view larger image Sheryl WuDunn meets Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO, at the 2013 Global Women's Leadership Network reception. WuDunn is a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner.
"There's no silver bullet," WuDunn said. "We must try different strategies, and a lot of times what works is not always the sexiest."

WuDunn related her findings to the credit union movement during a panel discussion focused on the challenges women credit union leaders face. Teresa Freeborn, El Segundo, Calif.-based Xceed Financial FCU president/ CEO, moderated the discussion. It included Patrice Pratt, Vancity CU (Canada) director; Lucy Ito, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues executive vice president and chief operating officer; Lisa Bonin, Servus CU (Canada) corporate procurement specialist; and Katie Smigiel, CU*Answers vice president of organizational development.

The network announced that it is partnering with Filene Research Institute this year to conduct a study that identifies obstacles to leadership that women face in the credit union industry worldwide.

Click to view larger image Nicole Bice, left, Global Women's Leadership Network manager, presents the 2013 Athena Award to Roxanne Ostrem, Ventura (Calif.) County CU director, on behalf of the Global network at Saturday's network reception in Ottawa, Canada. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The panel discussed recent research on inequalities in executive positions held by women throughout credit union systems worldwide. A balance of men and women in top decision-making positions can accelerate an organization's economic success, their studies and personal experiences revealed. Panelists suggested Global Women's Leadership Network members could make a difference by raising awareness on the importance and benefits of women leadership at their own credit unions, especially among those in upper management.

"Women aren't the problem," WuDunn said. "They are the solution."

Prior to the forum, Roxanne Ostrem, Ventura (Calif.) County CU director, was honored with the network's 2013 Athena Award Saturday evening at the Network's reception. The annual award honors outstanding achievement in support of credit union development, particularly as it relates to credit union women's leadership development worldwide.

Ostrem has been a credit union advocate for more than 20 years and is a founding member of the Global Women's Leadership Network.

The conference ends today with World Council's annual awards ceremony and closing night reception at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Virginia's 'QuitTheHit' Video Tops One Million Views

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (7/17/13)--More than 1.1 million consumers, mostly Virginians, learned more about credit unions and their benefits through a statewide awareness campaign--"QuitThe Hit"--created and funded by Virginia credit unions.

The "QuitTheHit" Social Media Campaign was launched in April to increase awareness and drive consumers to learn about the benefits of membership in Virginia-based credit unions. A humorous video was produced and shared through YouTube to reach those in Virginia ages 18 to 35. The video encouraged them to visit the campaign's informational website. Use the link to access the website and video.

"This was an unconventional and bold strategy for credit unions in Virginia, and we set the bar high expecting to reach at least one million consumers," said Rick Pillow, president of the Virginia Credit Union League. "We relied on consumer research and designed an edgy, humorous campaign leveraging the power of social media to help reach that goal. Thanks to our credit unions' commitment to promoting this campaign, we surpassed our goal and reached more than 1.1 million consumers."

More than 66,000 consumers visited the informational website, via the video, and more than 25,000 used the "search for a credit union" feature.

The league conducted consumer research to determine the strategy and message of the campaign. It learned consumers feel they are taking a "hit" from the economy and are suffering the impact of higher prices and rising fees. The creative team took the idea of feeling hit to a literal level and designed a video featuring a George Washington character, who represents money, physically taunting the main character who represents the consumer (News Now April 12).

Awareness of Virginia credit unions was already high at 78%, according the league. However, the campaign successfully reduced the "fog" of uncertainty surrounding credit union membership, with fewer consumers now saying credit unions are not a viable financial services option, said the league.

Post-campaign research and tracking revealed that percentage of consumers who have lower rates and fees as "top of mind" when they think of credit unions doubled--to 8% from 4%. Following the campaign, more consumers (61%, up from 56%) said they want to find out more information about credit unions and their benefits, according to independent research.

Virginia-based credit unions have a membership of more than 7.9 million, as of March 31. However, only an estimated three million of that number reside in Virginia. Many Virginia-based credit unions--especially those affiliated with the government and military--serve members nationwide, and in some cases, worldwide.