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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Account aggregation has taken a lot of blows recently in surveys and among analysts, and while many CUs still say the intangibles of the product are well worth the costs, adoption rates are pitifully low at many CUs. Some CUs say they’re pleased that they offer aggregation because of its upside potential and because it tends to be used by their more profitable members, but there seems to be more CUs unhappy with the reaction from members. In the disappointed camp are those who expected high adoption numbers, such as Wendell Blakely, SVP of Technology for IBM Southeast Employees FCU, Boca Raton, Fla. “I thought there’d be more interest. We do see an increase every month, but the numbers aren’t exciting. It’s kind of a ho-hum service,” said Blakely, who admits that after the CU’s success with other online products, his expectations may have been set too high. Also, the CU conducted a survey prior to launch that found interest in aggregation was high. About 22,000 of the CU’s 56,000 members use its online banking service. Only about 700 use aggregation, though the service hasn’t even been available for a year yet. Despite the disappointment, Blakely said the CU got a good deal on its Yodlee-powered aggregation solution by purchasing it in a package deal with 16 credit unions. Though adoption hasn’t taken off, he said the service is important to show members that IBM SEFCU “is a player in the financial services market.” If the product was as pricey for IBM SEFCU as he’s heard other financials are paying (in the neighborhood of $500,000), he wouldn’t recommend it to other CUs knowing what he knows now about adoption. Over at Boeing Employees CU, Tukwila, Wash., the adoption news isn’t any better. “It’s a little slow I’d have to say,” said Chad Laske, Web site project manager at BECU. After launching the service nearly two years ago (making it a true aggregation veteran among CUs), BECU only has 15,000 registered users. What’s worse, said Laske, is less than 1,000 of them are active users. Those aren’t impressive numbers given that BECU has over 300,000 members and approximately 120,000 members using its online banking service. Laske said BECU is trying to figure out ROI for aggregation, though it’s not the easiest of services to measure. Laske and Blakely both believe that there is still a lot of trepidation among members for giving out their PINs to their other financial relationships. On the positive side of the fence are people like Todd Marksberry, SVP with Delta Employees FCU. Marksberry said he’s thrilled with the service so far. Only offering it since April, approximately 1,000 members have signed up. Marksberry said that’s not a lot considering that 46% of its 170,000 members utilize online banking, but he thinks adoption will escalate over time. He said CUs should understand that many of their more profitable, or high-use members, could be the ones interested in aggregation. “The ones that are using it are off the chart top members. If you’re going to classify members, they’re A bucket members,” said Marksberry. Delta Employees FCU so far has only done a soft launch on the product. “You know with us being a single sponsor and all the lay-offs that have happened, it’s hard for us to go out and market this aggressively. We’ve been sticking to our core offerings,” he said. Marksberry believes services like aggregation and wireless are value-add services that CUs should not expect to make money on. He said they’re worth it though for maintaining relationships with members. Delta Employees is using a Yodlee-powered solution offered by MEMBERS Development Company (MDC). Anne Knopp of MDC said CUs shouldn’t wait too long to get into the aggregation game. “One of the things we’ve heard is credit unions are taking a wait and see approach with aggregation. But now is the time to offer it,” said Knopp. She said CUs that aren’t hearing the demand from their members think they have a few years to get into the service. Wrong approach. She believes CUs should drive education and thus demand. “Letting the credit union be the one to introduce aggregation to their membership puts them in a powerful and respected position,” she said. Members may be unaware of what aggregation is or how it works. That could be the biggest hindrance to adoption said Knopp. If a CU can bring a member up to speed, there’s a solid relationship being built, said Knopp. Knopp said there’s a perception that aggregation is extremely pricey (and it can be), but that’s not always the case. MEMBERS Development Company uses a Yodlee-powered aggregation solution but it also worked on some of the functionality and brings a consortium of CUs to any deal. Taking advantage of this, it is able to bring the price down to the $50,000 neighborhood. She said CUs have to look beyond the dollars and cents to measure the impact of aggregation. For example, she said it can be an invaluable tool for CUs offering financial advisory services to members. The MDC aggregation solution allows a member to give a trusted financial advisor access to their aggregation account so the advisor can get a snapshot of their financial life and make recommendations. All that can be done with the member and advisor being in their respected locations. There’s also the opportunity to look at what the members have or don’t have with other financial players and market CU products to them. Marksberry said that’s one area Delta Employees is treading very lightly. He said his CU allows members to opt in to have their information looked at by the CU, and even though 80% have given their go ahead, the CU isn’t actively using aggregation info to market to members just yet. Knopp said with an estimated 13% of CU members online and growing, solutions like aggregation are going to provide the stickiness CUs will need to attract and maintain new online members. “I’m just convinced there are tangibles and many intangibles. We’re not suggesting that 10,000 credit unions are going to sign up for this tomorrow, but there are hundreds of credit unions that can benefit from this service,” said Knopp. [email protected]

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