CU24 IS NOW CULIANCE

TwitterFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

May 16th 2017— CU24, the Tallahassee based payments CUSO, announced that it is changing its name to CULIANCE.

“Credit unions have changed, their members’ requirements have changed, and we’re changing right along with them,” said Mansel Guerry, President and CEO, “We’ve expanded our portfolio of products and services to meet the evolving needs of our credit unions to better help them compete and improve their members’ lives.”

The nation’s largest credit union owned POS and EFT network has recently brought to market a mobile banking app, POCKETCU, and a processing solution, PROCINCH, specifically designed to give small-midsize credit unions competitive, affordable opportunities in both areas.

“We’re not just another vendor, we are a partner,” explains Mr. Guerry, “A credit union alliance committed to helping our members meet the demands of an increasingly complex and dynamic financial services industry. We believe in credit unions, and take seriously our role to strengthen the broader credit union community, our new name, Culiance, reflects this mission and purpose.”

Credit Union 24 began in 1980, when four central Florida credit unions formed a CUSO to share their ATMs and serve their members 24 hours a day.

Today, Culiance has over 500 members and serve credit unions throughout the United States.

For more information contact: Lauren Giannini at lauren.giannini@culiance.com or 850-701- 2442.

 

Advertisements

Is It Time for an Apple Watch App?

okosora

By Robert McGarvey

The short answer is: No, the typical credit union does not need to be in a rush to deploy an Apple Watch app. Or any other smartwatch. Some should at least look hard into a possible rollout of an app.

But most can sit safely on the sidelines.

The timing is right for a fresh look at smartwatches and banking. We are now at the two-year mark since Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch and, at the start, optimism was high for the device and expectations were large that many of us soon would be buying stuff with a tap on a smartwatch, checking our balances on it, and maybe even paying bills with it. In those heady days, it often seemed that the Apple Watch was primed to revolutionize commerce and banking.

How has that worked out?

Understand that the Apple Watch has sold many millions of units. Apple has never released sales figures for the device but experts say that the watch is a billion-dollar product. But experts also say that sales have flattened—some say sales have in fact fallen —and while we don’t know the specifics, we do know that Apple Watch—and the Android smartwatches—really haven’t set the world aflame. There are fans, there are millions of happy users, but this is no iPhone. It has not birthed a wholly new must-have device category.

In 2009, two years after the iPhone launch, old-fashioned feature phones had started to look dated and dumb. Nowadays, when I look around, I just don’t see many watches at all. It’s not that smartwatches have won out, or that traditional watches are triumphing; it’s that a lot of wrists are bare.

And that’s why most financial institutions can breathe easily and put smartwatch apps on the backburner.

Watch apps, generally, also offer a small, edited suite of functions, such as finding an ATM, balance-checking, and pinpointing the nearest branch. The trend with mobile banking apps is to make them ever more robust, but that’s just not the case with a smartwatch where the limited screen real estate and the challenge of data entry mean that a watch app just will never rival a mobile banking app.

Then too, for full functionality the Apple Watch requires a nearby iPhone—and if an iPhone is near, who wouldn’t rather use it to handle complex banking tasks?

Add it up and we have skepticism about just how important smartwatches are likely to be in banking.

For some years our consistent advice regarding financial institutions and technology is: You need it. Get it soon.

That’s not what we are saying about smartwatches.

Definitely some institutions have Apple Watch apps—just about all the leading banks do, and a smattering of credit unions do too—but there are reasons to go slow. The biggest reason: For now, the primary use of smartwatches appears to be fitness-related (step counting, for instance). Although at least some users do monitor Apple Pay charges on their Apple Watch, no special financial institution app is required for that—Apple Pay alone should do the notification.

Our advice is blunt:  get your mobile banking act in gear. That, clearly, is the future of banking for most institutions.  So put real focus into mobile banking.

And go slowly with smartwatches.

There really is no reason to rush.

 

 

Do You Need Mobile Remote Deposit Capture?

 

business-collection-psd-mockup-iphone5s-11

By Robert McGarvey

The question has to be asked: can a credit union survive if it doesn’t offer members mobile remote deposit capture (mRDC)?

And if you don’t offer it, what should you be doing right now?

Ten years ago those weren’t questions. mRDC did not yet exist. It wasn’t until 2009 that USAA, the San Antonio bank, rolled out mRDC.

RDC—remote deposit capture, typically via scanner—had started five years earlier, in 2004, after Check 21 made images roughly equivalent to an original paper check. But RDC was mainly used by businesses. It had near to zero consumer adoption.

mRDC—made possible by cameras of increasing quality on cellphones—changed everything. Suddenly a consumer could fairly easily snap a photo and, with a few clicks, deposit a check. That is a major game-changer in a time crunched world.

It triggered a stampede to offer mRDC. And now the question is: can a credit union survive if it doesn’t offer it?

Thousands already do. New data from research firm Celent said that about 6,000 financial institutions in the US offer RDC and/or mRDC. That’s up from about 1,500 in 2013, and only a handful in 2010.

CUNA numbers counted 5,906 credit unions at year-end 2016. The FDIC counted 5,913 FDIC insured institutions in Q4 2016.

That means about half the banks and credit unions now offer a flavor of RDC.

Who doesn’t offer it? Celent researcher Bob Meara said, “it’s the small and rural institutions that don’t have RDC.”

He added: “Clearly everyone will have it.”

But do you need it now?

A grumble—especially among smaller institutions, said Meara—is that RDC is expensive.

It definitely isn’t free. Most institutions use technology—Mitel is the market leader—that involves fees per deposit and often fees per user. Numbers vary from institution to institution, and also with volumes, but an amount often heard is maybe 50 cents per deposit. “Small institutions complain about the fees; bigger ones have sucked them up,” said Meara.

That compares with $4 per deposit with a teller—at least that’s the number typically thrown out.

Meara shrugs at that latter number. “Many credit unions have told us they don’t honestly know the cost of an in-brand, teller transaction.” For good reasons. Many branch costs are fixed, and it may not be accurate to parcel out some expenses on a per transaction basis.

Suffice it to say that in-branch transactions, deposits included, are pricey, much more expensive than an RDC transaction.

So why don’t small credit unions jump aboard mRDC? The biggest reason is that many still don’t offer mobile banking, and the usual way to offer members mRDC is inside the mobile banking app.

Maybe five years ago, standalone mRDC apps had some currency, but they have fallen sharply out of favor, with consumers and credit unions alike.

The other reason: thousands of credit unions remain unconvinced their members actually want mRDC or would use it. That may even be true at credit unions with an older membership who aren’t technophiles.

Meara said in that case, maybe it makes sense to put off adopting mRDC. “Why rush if members aren’t demanding it?”

Nonetheless he added: “It’s inevitable that just about all financial institutions will eventually offer mRDC.”

The Millennial generation is why. This is a demographic that uses smartphones to do just about everything—play games, write and read emails, order food, line up dates, and more. Of course they want to use their phones to make deposits, too.

Another reason is that many credit unions are pushing to add small business members and, as a group, small businesses have shown much love for mRDC. Picture a plumber at the end of a long day. Does he/she want to drive to a branch to deposit the 10 checks he has gotten that day? Or would he rather use mRDC? It’s a no-brainer.  Small business loves mRDC.

Add Millennials to small business, and the case grows for offering mRDC to members.

But, suggested Meara, an institution shouldn’t rush into mRDC just to have it.

Word of advice: if you don’t have mRDC, start doing market research on consumers. Ask members who are in the branch if they want it. Ask if they use mRDC with another financial institution. That latter question could be a warning about diminishing wallet share—just maybe you are keeping the member but losing wallet share.

Know too that there are increasing mobile banking options for small credit unions with small budgets—and at least some of these tools offer easy ways to also offer mRDC . This no longer has to be a budget-breaker. Ask around. Ask peer institutions what they are doing. There are tools out there.

Just know that very probably you will eventually offer mRDC—so start preparing now.

Payments: The choice is theirs

payment-option-types

By: Kim Cromer, CULIANCE

Those old predictions of a cashless society seem to draw nothing more than a shrug these days. While once a trendy piece of prognostication, these days it’s hard to find anyone who actually expects cash to disappear. And so it is with the increasing array of payment options. More choices, even as traditional payment instruments remain stubbornly resilient.

By the numbers, according to the Fed: Payments by check have declined to a record low –about 20 billion. Use of payment cards continues to grow at a steady rate. Annual debit card transactions are approaching 50 billion, while credit card transactions continue to grow, albeit at a slower rate – now about 25 billion per year. There are about 20 billion ACH transactions annually, and the fastest growing payment instrument is prepaid cards, now exceeding 10 billion transactions annually.

The Federal Reserve also reports that one in six checks were deposited in the form of an electronic image. The increasing availability of mobile remote check deposit has created even more electronic check activity, driving a significant portion of ACH growth.

20 billion, 25 billion, 50 billion, 10 billion. Doesn’t look like any of these payment methods are going away anytime soon – despite persistent predictions that mobile payments will take over the world. How many industry newsletters and conference speakers have fervently pointed out that “kids today” do everything on their phones? That the millennial generation will soon make mobile payments the norm and replace the cards you hold in your wallet. Heck, they’ll even replace your wallet! These mobile payment predictions fly in the face of the persistence of traditional and established payment methods. Oh, and by the way, the highest percentage of cash users are 18-24 year olds.

According to the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), cash is still dominant for many types of transactions, and remains widely used for retail purchases. And cash is the payment method of choice for a growing population of self-served consumers who are not affiliated with traditional financial services providers. It’s actually older consumers who prefer payment cards and checks over cash.

The fact is, consumers, your members, in the aggregate will continue to use all of these payment methods for a long time to come. As the data demonstrates, product life cycles in the payments world are long and persistent. In order to meet the service demands of our credit union members, we have to offer the full range of payment products, along with the facilities and services that support them. This includes those more recent market entrants – mobile payments, P2P, eCommerce, remote check deposit, on-line banking, contactless systems.

Consumers will choose their payment method based on the circumstance, convenience, access and utility.

Here’s what I’m predicting in the next few years. I’ll be paying a lot of my bills on my PC using my credit union’s online banking system. Every now and then I’ll need to pay something quickly, and use my tablet from my regular seat at Starbucks – where I purchased my grande, vanilla latte with my smartphone. Fully caffeinated, I’ll pick up that blouse I’ve had my eye on using my chip equipped credit card, and on the way home I’ll stop at the grocery and pay with my debit card. Except that I like that balsamic chicken dish they make at Whole Foods, so I’ll pick some up for dinner using ApplePay. Someone else will do the same things, just a little differently. And the whole time I’ll have some cash in my purse. You?

Mansel’s Motivational Monday

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 10.27.08 AM

“A Serving of Sunshine”

By: Mansel Guerry

A few weeks ago my wife and I took a cruise to The Bahamas, something that’s become an annual ritual in our household. We took our first cruise two years ago and found it to be an enjoyable experience.  One of the most enjoyable parts of our cruises has been the nightly dinners where the staff treat us like royalty.  Our servers move with us each night from one dining room to the other.  By the third night, I’m getting to know these people pretty well.

On this most recent cruise, our assistant server was a young man named Sipho (pronounced “Seep-ho”), who had a most contagious smile and a personality to match.  After meeting him the first night, my wife and I looked forward to seeing him walk up to our table every night.  Just being around him made the cruise that much more enjoyable.

On the third night, I engaged Sipho in a short conversation.  I told him that his smile was like sunshine, and I expressed to him how much we had enjoyed seeing him each night.  He gave his chest a light thump and said his smile came from his heart.  Then he uttered these simple words:  “You and only you control your attitude.  I enjoy making people happy.”

Think about that for a minute.  Don’t underestimate the power of your smile and a few simple words of kindness.  When you see someone today, your attitude, expressed through your words and appearance, can be a ray of sunshine, a dark cloud of doom, or something in between.  The choice is totally up to you.

Make it your goal today to spread a little sunshine.

Your credit union: More than a financial institution

Mountain-Slider-Web

By: Mansel Guerry

Sometimes we get so caught up in our work, in doing what we do, we forget about the impact that work has on so many people’s lives. This is so true in the credit union movement.

The positive effect credit unions have on their members is truly remarkable. We feel knowing and really understanding this is greatly beneficial to the movement. With this in mind, CU24 interviewed credit union members from all across the country. The following is the result of those interviews. Please enjoy and perhaps keep its message in mind on days when you need a little motivation.

-MG

When asked, most people don’t really understand the difference between credit unions and banks, and they certainly don’t understand how these differences can positively impact their lives.

But Jaycob A. of Chico, California does.

For Jaycob, being a credit union member meant having the means to pay off a high utility bill during the busy 2014 holiday season.

A few years ago, Jaycob’s Sacramento-based credit union, announced that it had made more money than expected for the year — which meant the institution would distribute $18 million among all of its members. The timing was serendipitous; although Jaycob’s share amounted to less than $100, the feeling of security that washed over him when he saw that the money had been deposited into his checking account, was something he couldn’t put a price on.

“Since I was a college student at the time, every dollar was important,” said Jaycob. “I used the money to help with the utility bills that I was splitting with my 6 housemates. I couldn’t have imagined a bank ever returning the earnings to their customers like that.”

Stories like his are common, though largely unreported. This is due in large part to the idea that while the financial advantages of a credit union are well understood, what often gets lost in their messaging is just how those advantages — like low interest rates for auto loans and personal assistance in making purchasing decisions — translate to real-life situations that are clearly impacted by these actions. However, while millennials like Jaycob are driving credit union growth — and now account for 25% of credit union membership, according to a recent TransUnion report released in August — members of all ages have stories of how their credit union either helped them get out of a stressful or sticky financial situation, or helped them obtain money for something they needed, when a bank refused to budge.

For 38-year-old credit union member Amanda B., of Las Vegas, Nevada, having a credit union was like having a partner to support her at critical points in her adult life.

In addition to helping Amanda finance her first, brand new car at an “incredible” rate of 2% for 5 years, her credit union offered a personal loan with a low 6% rate when no other financial institutions would consider her because she was only 19 at the time. As a result, Amanda was able to save some money to pursue her dream of studying abroad.

“In recent years, they have helped me to recover from bad credit due to the recession,” said Amanda, who’s been a member of her credit union for more than 20 years. “They understand hard times fall on people and offer a reasonable lending hand. The personal customer service I’ve experienced makes me feel like credit unions really do care and are there to support all my banking needs.

Forty-two-year-old Ana M.’s credit union, also had her back at several critical, life junctures; most recently, when she needed to move back home after years of living abroad.

“Upon my return to the U.S. last year, they were quick to get me a new car loan and even had someone come with me to the car dealership,” said Ana, adding that she and her spouse plan to use their credit union when they buy their first house. “They always assist me over the phone whenever I need, and I always speak directly with a live person, with minimal waiting time.”

Don T., a 73-year-old retired federal government employee, also leaned on his credit union when he bought his first home in the 1970s and second home in the 1980s. But his 40-year-loyalty to his credit union dates back to a more desperate time, when, in his early 20s, he was a “dirt poor,” newlywed, college graduate — driving a car on its last legs.

“My wife and I had limited savings,” recalled Don. “We were considering borrowing money and purchasing a used car until I came across some information at work about their credit union.”

After stopping by that credit union’s office, he learned that the credit union offered not just a great loan rate for a new car, but also assistance in navigating the purchasing process with the dealer, in order to get the best price.

“The credit union had special relationships with local dealers that brought the price of a new car within reason for us,” said Don. “The terms of the loan obtained through the credit union made it possible for us to become proud new car owners while staying within our budget.”

Adhering to a budget was also a challenge for 37-year-old Cathleen M., of Fairfield, Connecticut. To this day, she refers to her credit union as a “lifesaver” during her college years.

“I was able to take advantage of a really low auto loan rate through them, which helped me save money while my car was being financed,” said Cathleen. “Not long after that, I also opened up a credit card with them after I realized they offered the lowest interest rate.”

Without her credit union, Cathleen said she would have potentially owed thousands of dollars in interest, and remained clueless as to how to use a credit card to establish good credit. Unlike many of her bank-member friends, today, Cathleen is debt-free, setting aside her mortgage.

“I’m so grateful now for the help that my credit union has provided me with. In college, there were so many high interest rate, credit card offers being thrown around. I had a lot of friends who wound up taking advantage of these offers and were left with a load of debt,” said Cathleen.

“But not me.”

The Benefits Of Partnering With A CUSO

Cartoon Business Teamwork Concept

By: Mansel Guerry

If you are a credit union decision maker, at some point you may have utilized the services of a CUSO. For that matter, your credit union may have an ownership investment in a CUSO. Lately, however, it seems that some credit unions have lost sight of the importance of CUSOs. Large third-party, for-profit vendors have started to dominate the credit union market space, representing themselves as big-name, technology leaders offering their cutting edge enticing services. At the same time, credit unions have begun to regard CUSOs as simply another vendor vying for the privilege to sell their wares. It’s times like these that call for a reminder of why CUSOs exist.

To be clear, no one should expect a credit union to do business with a CUSO just because it is a CUSO. To be of benefit to the credit union, the CUSO must offer a quality, competitive service at a competitive price that, in turn, helps the credit union compete and add value to its members’ lives. That said, CUSOs, just like credit unions, have a hard time competing against the larger behemoths of the financial services world that have larger scale and deeper pockets, and can afford to buy the business of their customers. But it would behoove credit unions to stop a moment and understand that there is a cost involved whenever anyone attempts to buy their business. Nothing is free. No company, especially a large for profit, publicly traded vendor, gives away anything that it doesn’t expect to gain back.

Consider, too, that while vendors may offer some select attractive services to credit unions, very often those same vendors depend on a diversified business model with only a portion of their resources and efforts focused on (and concerned about) the growth and viability of credit unions. Conversely, in the CUSO world, as the credit unions go, so goes the CUSO. The very survival of the CUSO depends on the success of the credit unions they serve. In essence, the CUSO is “all in”, completely committed to the future of the credit union movement. It is their reason for being. To all of us in the credit union community, this is a commitment to a movement and a philosophy that is worth more than money.

But of more importance, credit unions should consider the immense practical and ideological benefits of utilizing CUSOs. Think beyond the sale. As a practical matter, even large credit unions are generally smaller players in the customer portfolios of large publicly traded vendors. Once the sale is made, the sales representative disappears into the saleosphere, not to be heard from again until contract renewal time. It’s hard to get attention on your issues when you’re among the smaller fish in the pond. Whereas for CUSO’s, their entire business model is based on service to credit unions. You’re important to a CUSO. You’re the reason the CUSO exists – hardly just another customer.. CUSOs epitomize the same cooperative spirit that credit unions are built upon by enabling a group of credit unions to accomplish, together, something that individual credit unions could not accomplish alone. CUSOs foster cooperative reliance within the credit union community. Together we make the whole movement stronger, complete, more independent. CUSOs feed on the experience of their credit union members, resulting in better products and services that are responsive to the specific needs of credit unions. The organic development of innovative technologies helps to ensure the long-term viability of the credit union movement.

So, if you find yourself evaluating your credit union’s vendor relationships and comparing one service provider to another, look beyond the simple price that you pay for those services. Take a deeper look into the service provider’s commitment to not just you and your credit union, but to the entire credit union movement. If you’re looking at a CUSO, you won’t have to dig too deep to find an encouraging answer.