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INDIANAPOLIS – More and more tech-savvy CUs are leveraging their considerable in-house tech talent to create tech CUSOs. FORUM Credit Union has done just that, and is really starting to roll. In September of last year the CU formed FORUM Solutions. The CUSO has grown to include seven full-time employees and is expanding its tech product line. FORUM Solutions has an interesting origin. Back in `98 it was looking for third-party lending software that included risk-based lending; had a solid retail sales component; and could improve turn-around time of loan apps. “We felt we had to have those three components to really compete. We looked at several systems, and could not see one that met our objectives, so we developed our own lending origination system,” said Dan True, COO of FORUM Solutions. “We had no visions of taking this outside of the credit union.” Originally that system was known as TAPS (Telephone Application Processing System). TAPS was particularly important to FORUM because the CU has a call center dedicated to lending. As CUs came to visit FORUM, TAPS became the talk of the visits. “FORUM is a recognized leader in lending. Our loan-to-share is over 90%. A lot of credit unions come to see what we do in our call center.” In response to CU interest, FORUM created FORUM Solutions and began marketing TAPS Lending to other CUs as well as small community banks. It has kept the TAPS acronym, but changed its meaning to Total Account Processing System to reflect that the solution could be used across all CU delivery channels, not just the call center. In May of this year the CUSO expanded its product line with the introduction of an Internet home banking solution, TAPS 24/7. For a fledgling system, it has serious functionality. It has an e-mail alert function the CU can use to e-mail members certain information, such as when their account hits a particular balance; when a check clears; or just about anything that can be pulled from the core system. TAPS 24/7 can be used with any core processor that it can link to using OFX, XML, or SQL. FORUM CU links TAPS 24/7 to its USERS core processing system using OFX. TAPS 24/7 is browser-based and includes bill pay, e-statements, and online lending. It also allows members to perform transactions from a PDA and download statements into Quicken or Microsoft Money. FORUM encourages CUs to use the TAPS 24/7 survey solution to find out information about its members. That data can be imported into an MCIF system for marketing efforts. “All the software is browser-based, which not only has a lot of advantages on the IT side, but on the training side. Most employees are familiar with browsers and the point and click technology,” said True. In December FORUM Solutions will launch TAPS Express. Features include credit scoring, risk-based lending, relationship pricing, deposit and loan product cross-selling, 60-second lending response; an automated underwriting system to reduce manual review; and a loan officer queuing system that allows loan officers to see on their desktop the loan requests that need to be reviewed. “This software is designed by credit union people and it shows. Hopefully other credit unions will see us as someone who understands credit union lending,” said True. The primary difference between TAPS Lending and TAPS Express is that TAPS Lending allows full integration with a CU’s core processor, while TAPS Express does not. TAPS Express is browser-based and delivered in ASP mode. So far FORUM Solutions has two CU clients of its TAPS 24/7 and three on TAPS Lending. Its clients may grow quickly as it recently entered into a marketing agreement with insurance firm Allied Solutions. Allied serves about 1,200 CUs across the country. [email protected]

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