Some credit unions, in deciding not to reinvest in their corporates, have also decided to move one of the core functions that led to the creation of corporates in the first place–item processing.
That’s the case at the $178 million Gateway Metro Credit Union, which has moved its business from the former league item processing center (now iVia Exchange Services) at the Missouri Credit Union Association to Fiserv Inc., the longtime provider of the credit union’s Portico core processing solution.
“We started considering the move after our board decided not to recapitalize our corporate and it’s been one of our easier moves,” said Jay Lewis, vice president of finance at the 15,600-member Gateway Metro. “They already handled our core processing, since the days of EDS, so why not have them handle our check settlement as well?”
The move officially was made last summer in the months before it became official that U.S. Central Bridge would be shutting down for good, a development that has proved good for business for companies like Lending Tools, which won Missouri Corporate’s ACH business, and for Fiserv.
There now are 2,300 financial institutions using Fiserv for item processing, said Mark Atchison, the company’s vice president of business development in Fiserv’s Credit Union Division. He said 30 new credit unions contracted with the company for item processing in 2011 and that the number of credit unions on the platform has nearly doubled in the past 18 months.
Lewis said Gateway Metro first checked out moving the item processing to the Federal Reserve but decided to go with Fiserv because of the broader services of the technology provider, including scanning, that he said makes “it almost like a clearinghouse operation.”
The credit union also can take advantage of direct remittance within the company’s network of financial institutions using its check clearing service and gets same-day settlement, providing access to the funds and quicker notification of returns.
“As vice president of finance, I like getting immediate credit for a cash letter as opposed to the next day or the day after,” Lewis said.
As for the conversion process itself, Lewis said the credit union created its own Federal Reserve account for electronic settlement and that unlike the “terrible service” he had read so much about on CFO listservs, “it’s been just the opposite for us. They’ve been really good.”
The biggest technical challenge of the other piece–the initial image capture and processing–was ensuring the checks scanned through its Fiserv branch capture solution got imaged properly to the credit union’s Virtual Branch platform so members could view checks online, Lewis said.
That was soon overcome and the credit union is now seeing lower cost per items settled as it works with Fiserv on plans to implement the next stage of its online item processing evolution–mobile remote deposit capture, which Lewis said he expects to be available in the fourth quarter of this year.
Serving member business accounts and younger consumers are major factors in deploying mobile RDC, Lewis said. “Here’s a great example. We just had our annual meeting and gave four, $1,000 scholarships to four individuals going off to college. These are the people who are going to expect to be able to take an image of that check and remotely send it to us.”
Meanwhile, paper check volume, while surpassed years ago by debit card transactions, remain fairly steady at just more than 14,000 a month, he said.
“They serve a purpose,” he said of the paper check. “I guess we just don’t know how much longer that purpose might be there. I’m not sure they’ll ever go away though.”
Lewis said Gateway Metro will be maintaining its relationship with LICP at the Missouri league. “I’m not bad mouthing them by any means,” he said. “We still have some relationship with them handling corporate checks for instance, and we have to house information there for seven years.
“I think it’s always good not to burn bridges. They’re just not doing our day-to-day processing. We found a source for that with our core processor,” he said.
He added, “We’ve always been on the forefront of these types of moves and there probably are going to be other credit unions doing this.”