Those are just some of the ideas explored by the Filene Research Institute's i3 Innovation group.
"It is amazing what the i3 team has been doing for the industry," Filene Chief Innovation Officer Denise Gabel said.
She pointed to the latest efforts, tentatively called CU Harmony. Like the eHarmony concept of matching singles to create permanent couples based on profiles, the CU Harmony Web site is designed to provide credit unions the same opportunity.
By registering on the site, credit unions will be able to view postings from other credit unions looking for collaboration partners or create their own post. By listing specific collaboration needs and offerings, the site will facilitate the matching of credit unions with like interests.
Users can share information and offer their skills to help others. The site allows for queries against any of the fields carried in the NCUA 5300 call reports to find credit unions that fit potential partnership opportunities.
"When you think about credit unions, the talk is always about how credit unions come from a place of collaboration, so the team started brainstorming about providing a way to really help facilitate that rather than just talking about it," said Gabel.
The site is currently in a beta stage (harmony.thwakk.com), and Filene is seeking feedback from credit unions.
"What would also be interesting is if some of the conversations actually had an expiration date to help drive it from just an idea or concept to actual implementation," said Gabel. Perhaps the best example of Gabel's point of how an innovative concept can be stuck in first gear is Chrome, a franchise branching idea that has been sitting idle at Filene since 2005. Recognizing that Gen Y is a key market segment for credit unions, an i3 team explored the possibility of using modern branching to draw young members.
The original Chrome concept envisioned financial information made available in an environment that included WiFi; music download capabilities; video games; private financial consulting areas; kiosks for online research and product information; and a state-of-the-art vehicle prominently displayed.
According to Filene CEO Mark Meyer, Chrome is the young adult version of a potential multipart branding system where the overall vision is to approach the financial services space through segmenting.
He said that now may be the best time to take the Chrome franchise idea to the next level of implementation. He added that collaboration among credit unions, design-build firms, shared networks and more would be key to moving Chrome past concept to reality.