The Official CO-OP Financial Services Blog

CO-OP Financial Services Blog: Insight Vault

Amplify Your Impact with Miracle Match

General / by Vice President, Marketing

826Looking to have an impact with your charitable efforts? CO-OP Financial Services is supporting Shop for Miracles, a one-day charitable program to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, taking place on October 16, International Credit Union Day. By partnering with CO-OP, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the World Council of Credit Unions and CMN Hospitals on this event, your credit union supports a great cause while amplifying member engagement.

The idea behind Shop for Miracles is simple. Each time members use their credit union-issued credit or debit card on October 16, credit unions participating in the Shop for Miracles program will donate $0.25 or a pre-determined amount to CMN Hospitals.

Joining Shop for Miracles gives your charitable efforts cooperative impact:

  1. Raise awareness by raising more money. CO-OP will provide CO-OP Miracle Match funds starting at dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 for approved credit union applications.
  2. Highlight your cooperative spirit. In addition to pointing out your individual credit union’s fundraising success, you can point to the more than $100 million credit unions have raised for CMN Hospitals since CU4Kids started in 1996.
  3. Get promotional support. Put your cause front and center with member-facing collateral material that helps you promote Shop for Miracles. For details click here.

“Last year we sponsored a pilot program with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues which resulted in CO-OP providing a match of more than $27,000 to the funds raised by 11 participating credit unions,” said Stan Hollen, President/CEO, CO-OP. “In 2014 credit unions across the country have the opportunity to support their local children’s hospital and be engaged in their communities in a very meaningful way on International Credit Union Day.”

“CO-OP’s support is another example of the company’s fund raising leadership for CMN Hospitals, which provide desperately needed medical services to sick and injured children regardless of the family’s ability to pay,” said Joe Dearborn, Senior Director, CMN Hospitals. “The credit union industry is the third-largest donor to CMN Hospitals through Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers, and we are very grateful to the movement’s support again in 2014.”

CO-OP Financial Services is accepting applications for Shop for Miracles matching funds immediately, with a deadline of September 30. For an application, click here

Earthquake Serves as Preparedness Reminder

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Earthquake Serves as Preparedness ReminderThe magnitude 6.1 earthquake that struck yesterday morning in Napa, Calif., serves as a reminder for vigilant disaster preparedness, as members depend on their credit unions more than ever in times of emergency.

September, in fact, is National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies.

Now is the perfect time to remind your members of the unique role shared branching can play in their lives, in normal circumstances – and in not-so-normal circumstances.

Sarah Bang, Chief Strategy Officer, CO-OP Shared Branching, had the opportunity today to remind readers of CUNA News Now of the essential role shared branching played during Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans nine years ago this week.

The story reports “Bang said the shared branch network set up special identification policies for members who were without wallets or identification. ‘Imagine how those members felt when they were able to get $200 from the credit union,’ she said.”

The story continued: “But how do credit unions educate members about shared branching? ‘Just tell them,’ (Bang) said. ‘Reward them with this value that your credit union gives them.’ Make sure staff and call centers can tell members where to find a shared branch, either directing them to a website, an app or other location that will make it clear they can access credit union services elsewhere.”

Studies find that about 50 percent of credit union members understand the premise of shared branching. It’s not only time to acquaint that other 50 percent, but also remind those that do understand shared branching of the many ways it can serve them.

The CO-OP Shared Branch network now comprises some 5,300 branches and 2,200 standalone locations nationwide, all of which can be found at http://co-opcreditunions.org/locator/.

Now is the time for member education for another reason. Let it not be forgotten, as the children of members now leave home for school, that they can conveniently access their home credit union accounts by working with a participating shared branching credit union in their college town.

Again, to read the CUNA News Now story in full click here, and you can learn more about CO-OP Shared Branching here.

8 Good Reasons to Give Your ATMs a Remote

General / by Vice President, Marketing

8 Good Reasons to Give Your ATMs a RemoteOperational news flash: Easier is better.

As credit unions work furiously to provide more and better convenience technology to their members, they might pause to consider whether available technology might make their own lives easier and better – and improve the member experience in the bargain. CO-OP ATM Visual Control with the new Remote Manager function allows for easy, efficient remote management of your ATM fleet.

How does this help you? Let us count the ways:

  1. Remote ATM management goes beyond monitoring. So, not only will you know when there’s a problem, but you’ll also have tools to fix it.
  2. A state-of-the-art system works with all of your existing technology and manages your asset information. You won’t have to remember which operating systems, hardware configurations and application versions you’re running: Your system will.
  3. You can perform maintenance remotely during off hours.
  4. Enhanced management capabilities mean you can save yourself the trouble and expense of hiring and dispatching technicians at every turn.
  5. Less downtime.
  6. Using customizable transaction screens, you can control the visual elements on your ATMs – logos, backgrounds, additional languages and headers. Translation: Better results, less work.
  7. Reboot remotely.
  8. Simplify electronic journal management with a single, efficient application.

Making ATM management easier also makes it better: less labor-intensive and costly, less confusing and overwhelming, less haphazard and anxiety-inducing. ATM technology is supposed to be convenient. Shouldn’t it be convenient for credit unions as well?

To learn more about CO-OP ATM Visual Control, read the white paper here (PDF).

A Top 10 of Credit Union Benefits from Millennials

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

A Top 10 of Credit Union Benefits from Millennials A key feature of the “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams” campaign website is the “People Like You” section. Here, Millennials tell their peers about the benefits of credit union membership based on their own experience. We’ve published eight stories to-date, with more on the way. Here’s a “Top 10” of credit union benefits, from the vantage-point of the Millennials we have interviewed:

1. A great place to start building credit. Several of the young people we spoke to felt particular gratitude to their credit union for helping them establish a good credit history. This includes more than just receiving a piece of plastic – they also received good advice on the responsibility that comes with credit.

2. A resource for fulfilling dreams. Whether it’s buying a car or home, traveling, or building a business, it’s a fact – credit unions help Millennials fulfill their dreams.

3. A resource for financial advice and an eagerness to help. Repeatedly, we heard that credit unions are a great source for financial advice. And, the help is proactive. As one person said, the staff “Knows things I need, even before I do.”

4. A trusted partner. Another vey common theme: Millennials told us they felt that their credit union trusted them. They saw their financial institution as their partner.

5. Easy access to ATMs and branches. Finding surcharge-free ATMs and branches is no problem. CO-OP is making it even easier for Millennials (and everyone else) with a revamped locator that can now be found at the campaign website at: http://co-opcreditunions.org/locator.

6. Account access via on-line and mobile. We were told by at least one member that she had yet to step inside her credit union’s branch. This was enabled in part, of course, by on-line and mobile account access technology that can compete with anyone.

7. Member service is second to none. Every testimonial from the Millennials we spoke to cite the exceptional member service of credit unions. Several have close relationships with the branch manager at their local institution.

8. Compares favorably with banks. The trust, ability to anticipate needs and personal service that they experienced at credit unions was just not the same at the banks they dealt with.

9. Commitment to philanthropy. Doing business with an institution that gives back to its community is important to Arianne Schumacher of California. Her credit union’s “commitment to improving and supporting San Diego County is something I admire,” she told us.

10. Great rates! Kyle Coleman of Georgia could have been speaking of any credit union when she said “Their rates can’t be beat.”

Keep checking back with “People Like Us” for more stories – and keep up the great work!

Two Efficiency Boosts for Your ATMs

General / by Vice President, Marketing

Two Efficiency Boosts for Your ATMsAre ATMs, in fact, automatically efficient? Not necessarily. Here are two areas you might not be considering when considering the efficiency quotient of your ATM fleet:

1. Your ATMs Could Do More

ATMs have the advantage of being familiar, well-loved technology. Give your members ATM technology and they’ll use it.

This begs the question, what if your ATMs could do more? Add CO-OP NextGen ATM to the mix, for example, and you can offer self-service shared branching transactions to your members and members of other credit unions.

As new self-service technology becomes available, thinking of your ATM fleet as an old stalwart means missed opportunity. For decades now, ATMs have offered an efficient, convenient service alternative to credit unions and their members. Is more of a good thing really too much?

2. More Management Might Require Less Work

Do you have a team of technical wizards devoted entirely to maintaining your ATM fleet at optimum capacity? If so – and it’s not breaking your budget – then you are in fine shape. Carry on.

At many credit unions, this isn’t the case. Are you managing a complex ATM fleet, with multiple vintages, models, systems and manufacturers? Are your ATMs flung far and wide? Is your ATM manager a pinch hitter who doubles as a branch manager or VP of marketing? Does an ATM glitch create an operational crisis?

Enlisting outside help to manage your ATM fleet might be more than a relief: It’s probably a smart operational move. ATM management isn’t simple – especially if it’s not your native area of expertise. And haphazard management easily results in a shoddy member experience.

Using automated remote management, such as CO-OP ATM Visual Control, paves the way for a better member experience – all while making your ATM fleet more efficient. And if it makes your life easier in the process, no one has to know.

Learn more about CO-OP ATM Visual Control in a new white paper, “Moving to True ATM Remote Management,” available for download here (PDF).

Join us for a joint CO-OP/Diebold webinar on optimizing the self-service experience using CO-OP NextGen ATM, September 9 at 2 p.m. Eastern. For more information and to register, click here.

Credit Unions Can Grow By Giving Members Greater Freedom

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Credit Unions Can Grow By Giving Members Greater FreedomIt’s not the imaginative leap, but the operational challenge that makes efficiency in the age of “always on” access so puzzling. It is necessary – though not always easy – to provide the seamless, omnichannel experience members expect. But here’s the rub: That technology can’t take the place of human interaction. To provide excellent member service today, you must be available on every front.

The need for human availability isn’t just a Baby Boomer thing, either. According to a June 2013 study by Filene Research Institute, Gen Y consumers are more likely to contact a call center, visit a branch and/or drive up to an ATM than any other segment. All this at a time when branch operations are undergoing massive transformation in order to stay competitive.

How do credit unions rise to this operational challenge? And – even more pointedly – how do they excel, given the superhuman requirements that these demands place on operations?

“We help credit unions grow their business by giving members the freedom to manage their financial lives on their own terms,” says Carol Cline-Parton, Vice President, CO-OP Member Center. Credit unions that work with CO-OP Member Center enjoy the flexibility of 24/7 availability without the requirement of 24/7 in-house staffing. Members accustomed to managing their finances anytime using smartphones and tablets especially like having an on-call resource to help resolve questions and issues, such as disputed card charges or balance inquiries.

Working with CO-OP Member Center means efficiency from another standpoint as well. Offering round-the-clock help with loan servicing, for example, helps credit unions deliver a better lending experience and more loans. Having the ability to forward calls to CO-OP Member Center during staff downtime ensures that members don’t experience an interruption in service – and this holds true for routine breaks and meetings as well as major disruptions such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Partnering with CO-OP Member Center also enables credit unions to deliver the consistent, consistently member-centric experience so critical to the credit union brand.

CO-OP Member Center also offers credit unions a degree of operational flexibility that’s hard to match. “We have credit unions that have been with us 16 years and are still implementing new services today,” says Cline-Parton. “Their needs ebb and flow with the needs of their members.” Given the rapidly-changing nature of today’s consumer expectations, flexibility might be the most important advantage of all.

Learn more about CO-OP Member Center in “CO-OP Member Center Delivers On-Demand, Always-On Member Service,” a free white paper available for download here.

More Top 5 Must Reads for Credit Unions

General / by Senior Manager, Market Analysis

More Top 5 Must Reads for Credit UnionsCompetition – in business, technology and member service – has never been more fierce, as this batch of five essential reads for credit unions demonstrate.

The Digital Battle You Must Win

The average consumer’s relationship with his/her financial institution is dominated by payments, yet few FIs are fighting to win the battle for digital payments.

Why Tech Companies May Gun for Banks

We frequently hear that nontraditional competitors could disrupt financial institutions. Finally, Bank Systems & Technology answers the question: Why?

Consumer’s-Eye View on CU Growth

As CUNA announced that credit union membership has topped 100 million, Public Radio’s Marketplace filed this report on what’s motivating the membership spike.

What if an Apple Wallet Had Visa Tokenization?

Speculation, speculation: Some analysts are wondering if Visa’s new token service might help Apple make secure, mobile, contactless payments a reality for iPhone 6.

Is Anyone Using Your App?

Fast Company offers a refresher course on creating apps people will actually use. First item of business: Solve a problem people actually have. Smart reading.

What if Your Members Don’t Want a Wallet?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

What if Your Members Don’t Want a Wallet?Trying to provide your members with a full-blown mobile wallet is a nerve-wracking proposition. Which technology will merchants embrace? Will the iPhone 6 include NFC? When will members be able to leave their actual wallets at home?

Instead of rushing down this uncertain path, maybe it’s time to ask a different question: Do your members want a mobile wallet in the first place?

This question may seem counter-intuitive. How can it be that our mobile-obsessed members won’t prefer a mobile wallet? How is it possible that they aren’t waiting right now – ready to defect to the first financial institution that offers them the mobile wallet of their dreams?

Short answer: The real mobile wallet of your members’ dreams is still years away from reality. Meanwhile, members do want several things from you, their financial institution of choice.

Get in now. You can participate in many existing mobile wallets simply by incentivizing your members to use your cards to make wallet transactions. CO-OP’s own Ryan Zilker recently wrote a great opinion piece on this topic for Credit Union Times.

Be mobile. Mobile engagement is a huge benefit for members. Think mobile check deposits, mobile banking and bill pay, mobile P2P payments and more. Users of Sprig by CO-OP enjoy these services – and look forward to new benefits coming soon.

Surprise, innovate. Speaking of new benefits, CO-OP will soon introduce CardNav by CO-OP card controls and alerts, which help members get the most from their accounts using their smartphones as remote controls.

Let’s get real. Also on the way: real-time online and mobile payments. That is, cardless, person-to-person payments that move in near real-time will soon be available for users of Sprig by CO-OP, thanks to the PayNet payment network from FIS (www.fisglobal.com).

What do these products and features offer that the dream wallet can’t? Members can use them now (or nearly now). As to speed: When the Fed asked survey respondents if they would prefer real-time payments, 69 percent of consumers and 75 percent of businesses said yes.

So, what if your members don’t actually want a wallet – at least not now? Why not focus on giving them the tools they want, the tools they can actually use now? Because while we’re waiting for the dream wallet to materialize, we’re all looking for mobile payment and money management tools we can use right away, in real time.

Branches: How Do You Work Them?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Branches: How Do You Work Them?When we view branch transformation – especially from an operational perspective – too often we get bogged down with concerns about efficiency, new technology and retraining needs as branches move from old school to newly formed. This is a missed opportunity.

Think instead about transformation. If you are undergoing branch transformation, above all else, you have the opportunity to become more precisely what your members want and need. If you think about it, members don’t walk around wishing for fewer branches. They aren’t hoping you’ll migrate to more efficient self-serve technology, or fire up your staff to improve cross-selling.

Members just want you to meet their needs. To make your branch transformation really work, look deeply into member needs and find new – and, sure, efficient – ways to improve service and enhance member satisfaction. How?

Go fast. Here, self-service technology like CO-OP NextGen ATM can really shine. By increasing the potential for self-service, you decrease the potential for long waiting times. But don’t limit your need for speed to technology. If your branches are going to turn up the volume on loan growth, look for ways to speed those processes as well. For example, you can move loans into the pipeline faster if you offer members an immediate appointment with a lending expert, via video if necessary.

Leverage flexibility. Repeat after us: All branches need not be created equal. Whether your branch transformation journey begins with the radical redesign of a single established location or the ground-up creation of a newly-imagined capsule branch, begin each process with this question: What do the members who will come to this branch want and need?

Focus on providing exactly that – no more, no less. This may mean multiple cash recyclers and a bank of member service representatives to serve small-business members, or a single state-of-the-art ATM to provide a range of shared branching services 24/7 using very little real estate. The real power of branch transformation lies in its remarkable flexibility. Use it.

Redefine service. You get less face time to build relationships today. So be it. If one of your goals is to improve your advisory and sales potential, make sure your transformed branches support that effort – not only in their design, but also in terms of training, product development, process design and member feedback.

We know for sure that members’ relationships with their financial institutions are changing. They’re more mobile and virtual. They’re less loyalty-driven, particularly among Millennials. But we also know that there is still a role for actual locations –provided we ensure their efficiency and profitability.

One of the greatest drivers of branch efficiency is being effective. When members truly find what they need and bring you their trust, your branches are – in the best sense of the word — working.

To visit CO-OP’s Branch Transformation Resource Center, click here.

Is Debit Your Nerve Center?

General / by Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Is Debit Your Nerve Center?It’s easy to think of debit as basic. Everyone has it. Everyone uses it. Even as debit transaction growth has slowed a bit, growth is continuous. Yet, members aren’t swooning over debit. And chances are good, neither are you.

But it’s possible to think of debit in another way: as the nerve center of member activity and the central basis for a network of experience-enhancing products and services. Case in point: ELFCU in Indianapolis. ELFCU has over $1 billion in assets and no retail branches. For this credit union, maintaining member access across many channels isn’t a novelty: It’s a necessity.

“Checking accounts are the stickiest product we have, and engagement comes through debit and ATM transactions,” says Tim Greene, vice president of eCommerce at ELFCU. “At its core, access through debit is access to people’s money.”

Access may begin with debit, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Though ELFCU is an example of virtual relationship building, it faces many of the same challenges that all credit unions do. As transactions – and interactions – become increasingly remote, automated and electronic, meeting members’ needs and fulfilling their expectations requires a range of thoughtful products and services.

To that end, ELFCU wanted debit transactions to run flawlessly. But beyond that, they wanted a debit processor that could offer more – greater efficiencies, expanded member service options, everywhere access, state-of-the-art fraud protection, online and mobile enhancements and expert support. With signature and PIN debit processing at the center, ELFCU’s menu of CO-OP services is wide-ranging enough to meet evolving member needs. Services include:

  • CO-OP Network ATMs
  • CO-OP Shared Branching
  • ATM Managed Services
  • CO-OP Member Center
  • My Deposit Mobile
  • Terminal Driving
  • Full-Service Credit Processing

These services provide ELFCU members with many points of access, including ATM and shared branch locations and 24/7 telephone support. They also represent an unseen advantage:

By using multiple business lines, ELFCU enjoys relationship pricing and operational efficiencies – which translate into better rates and lower fees for members. ELFCU is also one of CO-OP’s credit union shareholders, which makes them eligible for an annual patronage opportunity.

If debit isn’t the newest or flashiest component in your member experience, remember that it may be one of the hardest working. You can view it as basic, or as the basis for a world of access.