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<p>MADISON, Wis. – The board of the Credit Union Interchange Group, Inc. – owned by CUNA, leagues, CU networks, and CUNA Mutual – has voted to dissolve the company. CUIG’s primary offering was Member Access Network. It was created in 1991 to establish nationwide credit union EFT connectivity. It was a switch that moved ATM transactions between its nine regional credit union network participants. They include Credit Union 24, CO-OP Network, SC24, Member Access-Illinois, CU24, CU24 Maine, Member Access-Arizona, ENCORE and Member Access-Pacific. As the credit union EFT industry consolidated over the years, Member Access Network’s relevancy waned. “It was created about 12 years ago to be a network of networks. The original intent was to be a facility for credit union networks to connect through one switch,” said Dan Balagna, CUIG’s Chairman and president/CEO of Service Centers Corporation. Balagna said as individual CU networks grew and consolidated there was less of a need for the switch. For example, Balagna’s outfit is going to be merging with CO-OP Network later this year and would no longer go through the Member Access Network switch. Balagna said Member Access Network was a success in bringing disparate CU networks together and may have been a catalyst for some of the EFT consolidation. CUIG’s origins explain what its mission was. Years ago the Presto network, owned by the Publix supermarket chain, told CU24 it was going to disconnect them from the network because it only wanted to deal with national networks. CU24 talked to CUNA and other leagues and the concept for Member Access Network was born, and Presto recognized Member Access Network as a national network. At its pinnacle Member Access Network processed about one million transactions a month. Then about three years ago transactions began to fall off. Ironically, this was due in large part to CU24 negotiating a deal with Presto to bring Presto into CU24. CU24 no longer wanted to go through the extra switch of Member Access Network, trimming about 300,000 to 400,000 transactions a month from Members Access Network. Bob Rose, president/CEO of CO-OP Network, the largest EFT network in the industry, said CUIG was plain and simply too late to the party. “In retrospect we can say yes it was a matter of timing. It was a good idea, but the timing was way late in order to try and form something of that nature. There wasn’t any opportunity to grow that business,” said Rose. Also, as individual credit union EFT companies grew on their own, there was less of a need for the switch. One of the best examples is CO-OP Network which has grown dramatically over the years. “We never had a lot of volume in CUIG, particularly because of our own success. We pretty much already expanded in the Western part of the country by the time CUIG was started,” said Rose. “And I think the fact that we acquired six networks over the last three years probably inhibited any growth that Member Access may have had. Frankly that consolidation is going to continue,” said Rose. There are 21 equal shareholders of CUIG. Each will receive money from the liquidation, but how much is not yet known, according to CUNA. “We don’t know what that number is yet. We still have an operation to run here for a while. After expenses are paid, all shareholders will get an equal amount,” said John Hollander, director of business development for CUNA. CUIG had a management agreement with CUNA for the day-to-day operation of the Member Access Network, and an agreement with EDS to run the switch. The switch will officially shut down on Sept. 5. Hollander would not provide any revenue statistics on the company, only saying it “has always been a relatively small company.” [email protected]</p>

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