What a difference a year makes. Last year, Fiserv Inc. held its first joint conference for all its credit union clients, following up on the long-expected consolidation of the seven formerly separate core processing operations it had acquired over the years.
That Nashville, Tenn., gathering introduced client credit unions to what was billed as the new "one Fiserv" and reorganized its credit union division to focus on helping customers find the best core processing platform and choose from the myriad of other solutions required by today's credit unions.
Last week's conference-Innovate 2010-was held in Las Vegas, bringing together about 1,700 attendees, including 1,100 from about 650 credit unions and a show floor that included 94 exhibitors from Fiserv and third parties.
"Last year, we talked about strategy overall. This year, we're able to show some progress against that strategy," said Scott Butler, president of the credit union division that provides core processing to about 2,500 credit unions and, he said, "in all reality, probably touches every credit union in the country in one way or another with our work."
Butler cited what he called "proof points" of that strategy in the past year, including 116 credit unions signing up for its ConvergeIT telephony system, 115 for card services solutions, 161 adopting Fiserv's mobile offerings and 114 who have adopted the Wisdom accounting package.
He also said the first user of its touted new Acumen platform-the $520 million Christian Community CU in San Dimas, Calif.-has now gone live and that three more are planning to soon. It's targeted as an open platform with the ability to easily scale and integrate ancillary services from Fiserv and third parties alike.
The changed focus is felt year round internally as well, Butler said. "We've had 10 credit unions in the past year that we helped move from one of our core account solutions to another that would better fit their strategic plans. What used to be a celebration in one camp and a time of mourning in another is now a cause for celebration across the organization. And instead of our clients being in the middle of managing two different vendors, we're able to help them now from both sides of that process."
Of course, client conferences are a time for showcasing new products and services. At Innovate 2010, that included person-to-person payments, card services and mobile solutions, the company said.
"This was a first opportunity for many of our clients to get a hands-on viewing of ZashPay [Fiserv's new P2P solution] and get an understanding of how it works and how they might use it at their institution," said Sara Brooks, senior vice president of Credit Union Solutions.
"We're also using our tech expo to showcase our new CardVision service, a consultancy service around enhancing profitability for card programs. There are a lot of different ways to increase usage of debit and credit cards, and we're looking at ways to really look at all those factors, including loyalty programs and really understanding what kind of transactions are actually coming through," Brooks said.
She said that service-called CardVision-is in pilot mode now at several credit unions before it's rolled out to the general credit union market. A lot of focus also was on when and how to deploy remote-deposit capture solutions for home and mobile bankers and mobile payments, Brooks and Butler said.
Looking to the year ahead, they said, Fiserv's credit union specialists are facing the same challenges as their clients-helping protect profitability in the face of expected lost income from federal changes in card interchange fees and overdraft programs.
"There's a real buzz about the transformation of the entire industry, both from a technology and a regulatory standpoint, and we're looking at the best ways we can help our clients deal with it," Butler said.
"In the past couple days, in fact, we've heard a lot more interest from large credit unions looking to outsource their systems online than I've seen in the past 20 years. I think that's because of the growing amount of scrutiny around continuity and security, and the appeal of having somebody who runs systems for a living rather than doing it themselves."
Butler added, "This is not a stampede, don't misquote me on that, but clearly we're seeing more large credit unions interested in that than we have in years."
"That's because we're the same as everyone else, and I can tell you that ensuring that our systems meet compliance and regulatory requirements is taking up more of our development bandwidth than anything else."