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LENEXA, Kan. – U.S. Central’s Corporate Network eCom subsidiary will soon roll out a product that will allow credit union members to do person-to-person payments and inter-institution transfers. Called MemberACH, it will be offered to corporate credit unions to offer their natural person CU members, though the initial target market will be very small. Corporate Network eCom says it is taking an ACH product developed by Wescom IDS, a partnership between Wescom CU and Integrated Tech Systems, and building on it. Corporate Network eCom will be sublicensing the solution from Wescom IDS, which is selling its own version to credit unions. “We’re excited about working with them. We’re excited that they thought the product was feature-rich enough to go with,” said Anne Marie Michael, President of Wescom IDS. Michael said Wescom IDS showed its tech prowess by developing an interface to eCom’s MemberBridge Server, a middleware server. Credit unions using MemberBridge will be the initial target for MemberACH. Fraud can be a problem with inter-institution transactions, so one MemberACH feature requires the member to prove they are an owner of the account they are trying to transfer to. “If a member wants to move funds from another account at another institution, we require them to validate they have ownership,” said Tanya Patterson, product manager for Corporate Network eCom’s Member Branch products. Member ACH does that by creating two randomly-generated payments and sending them to their account at the other institution. The member then needs to come back to their CU’s site where they were initiating the ACH and input the two payment amounts to validate that they have a valid account at the other institution. It may sound a bit strange for MemberACH to send the person money via two transactions, but Patterson said they are transactions for under a dollar and it is a solid way of preventing fraud. Another safeguard is allowing the credit union to set limits on transfer amounts. These limits can be set on a daily basis, such as a $10,000 limit for any one member, or be on a per-member basis. If a CU isn’t comfortable with a member making large transfers based on their past history, it could limit that member’s ACH transfers to say $100, said Patterson. This won’t be available until the second second release. There will also be an admin tool that allows the CU to see payment history and activity history. If someone is continually inserting a good routing number, for example, but a bad account number, it will show up in the member profile admin tool. “We’ll be piloting in the next few weeks. From there it is our goal to have this thing available this quarter. The ability to create unique member profiles and other features will be available closer to mid-year. We’re hoping to learn through the pilot and fine tune the design,” said Bob Amundson, SVP of Payments and eCommerce for U.S. Central and COO of Corporate Network eCom. He stressed that not all of the features will be available in the first release. Member ACH is the new addition to Corporate Network eCom’s MemberBridge suite of in-house products (all eCom products are branded under MemberStreet), which also includes home banking bill pay, back office bill pay processing, and a middleware solution (Member Bridge Server). MemberBridge Server was the primary reason behind the creation of Open Financial Solutions. OFS is a consortium of CUs and Corporate Network eCom that is working to develop technology solutions to help the OFS CUs better serve their members. OFS members include First Tech CU, Boeing Employees CU, Suncoast Schools FCU, Wescom CU, Orange County Teachers FCU, GTE FCU, Patelco CU, Bellco CU. These large CUs were looking for ways to cut down integration costs when adding new products to their host system. Right now the middleware solution is available for just the Symitar and Summit data processing systems, two systems that cater to the largest of CUs. The Member ACH product will follow suit and be initially available to Summit and Symitar CU users that use the MemberBridge Server, but Amundson said it may open up the product to more systems down the line. Corporates have been very active in the e-com arena, many offering Net banking and bill pay to members on their own, but some of them may look closely at Member ACH said Amundson since it’s a unique product not being offered by any other corporates. Michael said Wescom IDS has already sold the ACH product to several CUs, and thinks its appeal will just grow this year. She said CUs are finding interesting reasons to get the product, such as USC FCU, which is offering it to its members, many who are students, so they can pay their tuition online. As for pricing, Corporate Network eCom will charge a license fee and annual maintenance fee. It’s up to the CU to set pricing for their members, whether it be per use, or part of an overall relationship pricing plan. Though the e-com arena has been shaky at times, Amundson said Corporate Network eCom is ahead of schedule so far. “I’m happy to report that from a financial perspective we’re ahead of the plan from 1999, we’ve achieved somewhere north of 90% of transaction volume goals this past year,” he said. But he concedes that bill pay, one of the core products Corporate Network eCom was founded on, isn’t what everyone thought initially. “Five years ago it was going to be the killer application, It’s a very attractive delivery channel, but it’s not going to close brick and mortar operations,” said Amundson. 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