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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Horror stories abound about the punishment a data processing conversion can put on a credit union’s staff and the processors involved. Internet banking conversions don’t rank up there in terms of difficulty, but they do need to be well-planned, says one CU here who recently went through the process. Internet banking conversions are on the rise. The reason why is simply a matter of time. Most Net banking vendors have three- or five-year contracts. The bulk of credit unions began flooding to the Net in earnest from about 1996 to 1999, meaning their contracts are either up or on the verge of being up. The $115 million MIT FCU recently converted from Digital Insight’s home banking system to VIFI’s. The CU was looking for more functionality, such as one-to-one marketing, brokerage, wireless and other components. “We started the conversion process back in August. There is a deconversion that we had to do with Digital Insight. We were kind of running the two in parallel for awhile, with some people testing VIFI and the rest still on Digital Insight,” said Brian Ducharme, CEO of MIT FCU. About 23% of the CU’s approximate 13,000 members utilize home banking, so a seamless conversion was essential. Ducharme said the first step was to set up the new VIFI-powered e-branch to look like the rest of MIT FCU’s site. That customization was one of the reasons the CU chose the VIFI product. The CU then brought up the functionality. Once it had about 90% of the functionality working it assembled a member focus group to test the system. “We put together a focus group of our hard core e-branch members, allowed them to bank on the product. Then brought them back in and got some excellent feedback,” said Ducharme. Members told MIT FCU that they wanted the system more streamlined. The CU got rid of some graphics and other static information members didn’t find useful. Downloading and viewing account histories was also streamlined per members’ request. Paul Clark, VP of Product Delivery for VIFI, said an ambitious CU can get the conversion done in a little over a month if they really want to, but a well-planned, prudent conversion should be done over about a twelve-week period. Interestingly, Clark said the Net banking portion is not the toughest part of a conversion. The most detailed part of a conversion comes on the bill pay side. Members set up their creditors in bill pay which are verified by the bill pay processor. Clark said some research needs to be done to bring bill pay over to a new vendor, so that all of members existing creditors appear on the new system. “Bill pay conversion doesn’t add any time, but you have to do research and investigation of the data,” said Clark. In the case of MIT FCU, it was converting the front-end of bill pay, and the back end database to VIFI. MIT FCU’s existing back-end bill pay provider, Metavante, will still process the payments. On the actual day of the conversion, Ducharme said home banking was only down for a few hours, while the bill pay conversion was done over a weekend. “It went really smooth. The most important thing was having an organization willing to take all the needed steps to get all parties involved,” said Ducharme. He also said it helped to work with one lead person at VIFI on the conversion team. Starting in August, MIT FCU’s conversion was complete by early November. [email protected]

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