SYDNEY, Australia – Imagine being able to offer your members an online Wealth Management Portal where they can quickly evaluate their entire worth including stocks. Imagine your members being able to choose to give access to their financial advisors, lawyers or accountants. And imagine that this fantastic service costs your credit union less than a few PCs would. Australian credit unions don’t have to imagine it. That is what one employee of Credit Union Services Corporation of Australia Ltd. has created for members of CUSCAK in four short months. It is not a test, but functioning for Intech Credit Union, which services IBM employees. It is available to all CUSCAL members. The Wealth Management Portal is just the first step of a complete e-commerce system that Dhun Karai, general manager, eCommerce for CUSCAL was hired by the association to develop. When she was approached to go to work for them, she thought about it carefully, interviewing board members as well as being interviewed by them. She’d been working for Commonwealth Bank with a staff of 80, and credit unions were not considered heavy players by banks. Many of her colleagues questioned what damage she might do to her career by accepting the post. She took the job anyway. “Took” is the word. “Accepting” sounds too passive for Karai, who is a take charge, dynamic person. “The opportunity came to me at a time when personally I was entering a new phase in my life. I call it `returning’ i.e. working with socially responsible and community-focused businesses that are also often less bureaucratic, more open and inclusive,” Karai said. She comments on the shifting attitudes and how community goals are so similar globally. People are tiring of “cold aloof relentless organizations.” She doesn’t believe organizations need to give charity, but what is done with profits differentiates core values. Social responsibility counts higher and higher in her personal agenda. Thus Karai felt she wasn’t risking, but gaining when she took on the challenging new role. Challenges are like air to Karai, who seems to need both for life. And her CUSCAL brief offers her the challenge she wants. She describes it as, “To develop and implement an eComm strategy for Credit Unions to be the leading provider for online financial services in their chosen markets, built around individual needs, multi-brand and multi-channel accessibility with a strong community and socially responsible flavor.” Whew. She also calls it a business transformation for Australian credit unions as well as a business strategy, because she believes, “that properly used e-commerce reduces operational costs, increase revenue streams and improves communication and information flows with our owners, customers and suppliers.” Karai describes herself as a businessperson first and an IT person second. In fact she considers that the reverse often causes the problems as new technical solutions are developed to solve to old problems. She admits that she isn’t always successful, and she is the first one to recommend abandoning a project that isn’t working. Karai stated that a lot of IT people and executives make the mistake of continuing with a project that everyone has major doubts about. If seems wrong, it probably is, she told Credit Union Times. Still, as part of her business persona she insists the books balance. Credit union members are the same consumers that use banks. She loves trying to understand their needs but stresses community values along with bottom line profitability. For her it doesn’t have to be one or the other. But, business strategy is also the thread that runs through all decisions. Despite the whole hearted support of her boss, CUSCAL’s CEO Steve Laue, Karai says although she likes being appreciated, she wants to accomplish a great deal more before believing the accolades that have already come her way. In the fast moving world today, she believes that the willingness to transform at lightning speed is part of the key to survival. Karai feels that an advantage of the change in business strategy for Australian credit unions brought on by an aggregate e-commerce is better branding. She calls good branding as “keeper of the faith”. “No one can afford to have big brands campaign to get share in target markets,” she said. She points out that too many young people don’t believe they can be a credit union member. And young people want e-commerce. With many minibrands large targeted campaigns were impossible. However, Karai hopes this will change. If it does, she’s met one challenge with good business practices, following the needs of the consumer. An advantage of aggregating services is that Australian credit unions will have more resources. “Currently, credit unions are not considered to be serious online players in Australia which is one of the leading countries in online banking services,” she said, adding, “they face a 4 to 5 year competitive lag which provides me with great opportunities and significant challenges.” That magic word again, that she loves, challenge. [email protected]

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