Miss. CU Deploys Tech to ID Members in Need
The CU*BASE core processing platform from CU*South includes member-relationship tools that have identified members who lost employment at casinos in the Philadelphia, Miss., area, enabling the $12.9 million CU to reach out and help.
That includes short-term loans to help with basics such as utility payments.
"You can't always just lend by the numbers. These are people you know and trust, and you have faith that they will repay that trust when they are able," said Jason Martin, the 5,000-member credit union's CEO.
First Neshoba had been using a system from Gulf Data Services, according to its NCUA 5300 Call Report.
The new platform was installed by CU*South, a Mobile, Ala., CUSO that is part of the CU*Answers network based in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"We did some analysis of the credit union's memberships using the tools built into CU*BASE, and helped them identify over 1,000 members who fit a common profile," said CU*South CEO Leo Vaulin.
"When the jobs disappeared, their accounts became inactive. These people are still members of the community, and we're working with First Neshoba to develop programs that would bring them back into the credit union," Vaulin said.
Texas League to Blog
On Overdraft Protection
The Texas Credit Union League will be focusing its online blog this week on a topic getting lots of public and lawmaker attention: overdraft protection.
In an e-mail to its members, the league said it will be devoting its 30-minute "Blog Talk Radio" program on Sept. 14 to "Overdraft Protection: Not a Loan but a Financial Tool"
The league said President/CEO Richard Ensweiler, joined by Carolyn Jordan, senior vice president of Neighborhood CU of Dallas, will take questions from the public on "the concerns and the quality" the service affords members.
The 30-minute session invites listeners to post questions and participate though an online chat that reviews "the facts and the myths associated with this option."
The league urged the public to tune in to the discussion "about a product hailed by some as a lifesaver, and opposed by others. The duo will also get to the root of the issue, and that is financial literacy or the lack thereof."
S.C. League Advances
Its Search for a CEO
The South Carolina Credit Union League moved ahead last week with its national search for a new CEO by hiring O'Rourke, Mitchell & Associates of San Francisco to help find a successor to Garry Parks, the league's CEO who resigned but has agreed to stay on until year end.
Scott Woods, chairman of the league and president/CEO of South Carolina FCU of North Charleston, said that despite the ongoing dialogue among Southern leagues about possible consolidations as an economy move, such a plan is not in the cards for now.
"It was only natural" he said, "for our board to look at the viability of consolidation with other leagues, which we did during our annual planning session which closely followed Garry's retirement announcement." But after considering conditions, "We feel our state league still brings value to its member credit unions in its current form."
So far, he said, the South Carolina League has not been formally contacted about joining the fledgling League of Southeastern Credit Unions, made up of Florida and Alabama leagues, or of lining up with the Virginia or North Carolina Leagues, all of which share conference and workshop programming.
For years, the North and South Carolina Leagues have funded the joint Carolinas Credit Union Foundation and have worked together on charity endeavors, including the "BizKids" TV show, the Victory Junction Gang camp and 10K runs.
Michigan CUSO Offers
Electronic Risk Mgmt.
Business lending CUSO Michigan Business Connection LC has added electronic risk management services to its product lineup.
The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CUSO said it recognized the increasing demand for online banking services such as ACH origination and remote deposit capture within the small business community combined with the direct and indirect risks to financial institutions in fulfilling those needs.
MBC said it will help institutions just launching their programs as well as those that already have services in place but would like a review of their risk management controls or a program to improve their sales successes within the product set, said MBC President Bill Beardsley.
The CUSO has hired Paul Tobias, a 27-year veteran of the treasury management industry, to lead the effort. Tobias has been a certified cash manager by the Association of Financial Professionals since 1989 and a National Automated Clearing House Association accredited ACH professional since 2001, according to MBC.
Formed in 2004, MBC underwrites and services commercial loans for community financial institutions throughout Michigan.
Hawaii CUs Merge
In its second merger in the last seven months, the $578 million Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union of Honolulu is merging with the $2.3 million First Insurance FCU.
The consolidation will create a CU with 31,000 members, 130 employees and seven branches on Oahu.
Aloha Pacific said it will keep all of First Insurance's employees and its one branch. First Insurance was founded in 1951.
As part of its overall expansion, Aloha Pacific will open its eighth branch in Kaimuki by year end.
CO-OP Plans to Make
Claims Faster, Easier
CO-OP Financial Services is the second payment processor serving credit unions to subscribe to CUNA Mutual Group's claims automation service.
The addition means credit unions that process their debit charges with CO-OP and are covered by CUNA Mutual insurance will be able to submit card fraud claims more quickly and easily. Fidelity National Information Services started to allow its credit and debit processing CUs to use the new system in February.
"The partnership between CUNA Mutual and CO-OP is focused on helping our credit union customers overcome the time-consuming hassle of submitting card fraud claims," said Connie Trudgeon, vice president, operations for CO-OP. "In addition to operational efficiencies, this new service represents an advanced tool in the industrywide fight against fraud. With better data, delivered faster, both organizations will be better positioned to identify fraud trends and activate fraud prevention programs earlier."
Record growth in plastic card use and expanding applications are causing credit unions to experience greater operating costs and tasks related to managing plastic card fraud. Due to the large number of data breaches, the incidence of fraud continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to a 2008 study by CyberSource, $4 billion in online revenues were lost to payment fraud last year, the insurer reported when announcing the CO-OP move.
"Our claims automation service was designed based on input from credit unions and their need to improve the administrative efficiency of their card programs," said Chuck Cashman, plastic card product executive at CUNA Mutual. "This level of automation is unprecedented in the industry-enabling us to expedite the claims process for credit unions while improving the overall quality of their fraud analysis reports."
The companies said automatically and securely transmitting fraud claims data from CO-OP's data processing system to CUNA Mutual's claims processing system will save an estimated 15 to 20 minutes of administrative burden per claim and streamline the data flow to help eliminate misreporting caused by keying errors or missing data.
Brings in Sheaves
CUNA Mutual Group has reached agreement with Producers Ag Insurance Group to become sole owner of the crop insurer, serving farmers and agricultural producers nationwide.
The move is part of CUNA Mutual's strategy to identify new growth opportunities and diversify the risks it insures. Crop insurance protects farmers from financial losses that result from natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture, hail, wind, frost, insects and disease. The multiperil crop insurance is an $8 billion industry in the U.S.
In 2006 CUNA Mutual began serving as the lead reinsurer for ProAg as a direct writer of crop insurance and in 2007. It acquired a minority ownership position in ProAg.
"This acquisition builds on the initial investment we made in ProAg in 2007. In looking for new opportunities to build on our expertise and continue to strengthen our financial position, crop insurance and our recent acquisition of CPI Qualified Plan Consultants were natural fits," said CUNA Mutual President/CEO Jeff Post. "These acquisitions build off our core competencies, help diversify our business, and provide revenue streams that give us flexibility to invest and grow in the future.''
Since joining forces, ProAg has grown from a 70-employee company doing business in 25 states to a 400-employee company serving more than 40 states. So far ProAg is on pace to generate more than $530 million in premium in 2009.
ProAg will operate as a stand alone subsidiary of CUNA Mutual.