While conjuring a novel idea will often test one’s endurance, creating something that is also practical in its real-world application is often much harder and excruciatingly difficult.
At the NAFCU’s annual conference this week, these practical ideas were given center stage in the 2012 NAFCU Services Preferred Partner Innovation Awards.
Awards were given to the top three contestants with pragmatic and innovative ideas to help credit unions, said Dave Frankil, president of NAFCU Services Corp.
“Innovation can be hard to define, but you can think of it as ‘the successful application of new ideas,’” Frankil said Wednesday in a blog entry announcing the awards. “‘Application’ is the key word there – new ideas are the easy part – figuring out which are the good ones, and then applying them successfully, is more difficult.”
NAFCU Services Corp. said the competition included any NAFCU Preferred Partners who submitted their ideas to the judging committee – the NAFCU Services Advisory Committee – which was entirely composed of credit union executives.
The three winners were Affinion Group for its BankMyRewards program, Deluxe Corp. for its SwitchAgent services and Discover Financial Services for its marketing platform.
Affinion’s BankMyRewards program created a merchant-funded rewards program for members which doesn’t sacrifice margin for growth, according to the Advisory Committee. Leveraging its national network of merchants as well as nearly 800 online merchants, Affinion’s program offers members a 4% return on online purchases and a 5% return for offline purchases.
Deluxe Corp. was awarded for its concierge solution, Switch Agent. NAFCU Services Corp. said the solution helps members who have opened a new draft account move all their automatic checking account transactions to a credit union.
Credit unions using Switch Agent have indicated that, in some cases, it has seen a 32% increase in products per member, a 64% increase in account activation levels, and up to a 90% increase in some FI transaction levels.
NAFCU Services Corp. said it chose Discover’s marketing platform because of a new management tool that enables credit unions to deliver targeted messages through multiple channels based on real-time data. The marketing platform identifies spending patterns, determines member needs and identifies geo-locations.
Delivery channels include email, text messages, direct mail, web and mobile applications. The platform increases revenue through greater credit card usage, NAFCU Services Corp. added.
The NAFCU Services Advisory Committee said it assessed the applications based upon their degree of innovation, impact on credit union bottom line, overall contribution to credit union success and the competitive advantage it provides to credit unions.