MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- Talk about tech savvy. Working together, the IT, ACH and e-commerce staffs at Kinecta Federal Credit Union launched their own in-house online banking solution last year and are following it up this year with online account opening, check ordering, account-to-account transfers and a growing set of member-relationship management tools such as cross-selling alerts and targeted offers.
"Our teams work very closely here," says Juan Luna, Kinecta's vice president of IT.
Creating in-house what the vast majority of credit unions outsource has built esprit de corps, of course, but also has bolstered the bottom line at the $3.3 billion CU.
"Since the inception of our own online banking program in February 2005, we've saved over half a million dollars that we would have been paying vendors, and we also are able to react much more quickly when it comes time to market with new services that our members tell us they want," says Shannon Doiron, manager of e-commerce at Manhattan Beach- based Kinecta.
"It's really like night and day now that we don't have to wait for new releases and the lead time that vendors need to make changes," he says.
That's because things happen on the credit union's time schedule and based on its priorities, not that of a vendor with a production schedule that has to accommodate the needs of a list of customers, Luna says.
"The cost benefits were one of the most significant reasons for us to take control of our own systems the way we have, but so is the ability to get products to market, and the integration and flexibility we have since we don't have to wait for third parties," he says.
Not that some integration isn't required. The software development team works closely with Doiron's e-commerce staff and the staff members devoted to ACH solutions, Luna says, and they also give credit to their core processor, Symitar, for the facility with which its API allows them to interface the various programs.
And all this doesn't happen without some outside help. Applicants using online account opening, for instance, are vetted through Experian. And Luna, Doiron and their colleagues are in the final stages of selecting a new online security provider.
Those services require accessing huge databases of credit information, overseas ISPs and other specialized areas beyond the reach of a single financial institution, but the list of services the Kinecta staff creates itself continues to grow.
For instance, the CU just added a new ACH transfer tool that allows members, among other things, to schedule automatic transfers within their own accounts, adding more functionality to its in-house bill pay solution.
"We're also saving about 10 grand a year on annual maintenance contracts since we brought ACH in-house," says Jeff Swinford, manager of ACH at the 184,000-member institution. "And it's nice to have all your support coming from in-house."
Luna says Kinecta has realized these benefits without adding staff. "We fortunately have highly skilled developers here, people who know how to use Visual Basic and XML and other technology tools and we've been able to accomplish a lot," he says. Luna added that about 10 FTEs are devoted to software development and building and another six comprise Doiron's online banking and member support team. --firstname.lastname@example.org