It's hard to believe that the credit union eStatement industry will be three years old in 2003. In its infancy, the "Push vs. Pull" and "HTML VS. PDF" debates drove the industry. Implementation decisions were based on the traditional cost/benefit equation of finding the lowest cost eStatement solution and comparing it to the cost of paper statements. Now these issues have given way to a new debate on whether to use eStatements as a tactical option to save costs or whether to capitalize on the strategic opportunities that are inherent in eStatements and sell more products. One thing we have learned since 2000, the savings on statement printing and delivery are really just the tip of the iceberg! Evolution of an eBusiness Strategy Credit unions using eStatements as part of a Web strategy have found that eStatements can be successfully used as a strategic contact point to inform and interact with their members. By using eStatements and a custom e-mail notification, credit unions have been able to increase business and generate additional revenue by "pulling" members to their Web site for information, "targeted" offers and electronic delivery of products. Most eStatement products now provide internal links to other Internet based technology and are reducing "per transaction" costs, enhancing interactivity and delivering products and services 24/7. The more common links inside eStatements click directly to loan applications, online banking, online newsletters, online check ordering, online address changes and even live chat sessions. eStatements – Strategic Contact Point Gaining a member's permission to use their e-mail has always been a challenge facing credit unions. eStatements have become a successful vehicle for gaining this permission and have become a formidable digital communication tool. They have helped members establish an "e" comfort level and allowed the credit union to become an "invited guest" in the member's e-mail box, while building an online relationship with that member. Our studies indicate that about 70% of eStatement members are willing to give the credit union permission to use their e-mail address to communicate electronically with them-as long as it isn't abused. Since implementing eStatements in September 2000 one Virginia-based credit union has achieved an 18% adoption rate for checking accounts and 25% for first mortgage statements. The CU's own 2002 member survey revealed that 9% of its membership used eStatements (and the custom e-mail notification) as a source of credit union information compared to 0% in their 2000 survey. Using eStatement technology to identify members (who they are and when they are coming) and MCIF information (what products they don't have with us or have somewhere else) the credit union can successfully present targeted "offers" that generate additional revenue while members are reviewing their statement information. eStatement Trends Over the past three years some interesting eStatement trends have been observed: * Credit unions that offer eStatements to both online banking members and non-online members through their Web site, are achieving higher adoption rates. * Approximately 55% of a CU's online banking members will opt-in for eStatements. * A matching number of non-online banking members will opt-in for eStatements if they are available for pick-up outside online banking. * Credit unions with online enrollment options are achieving higher adoption rates over those credit unions that don't have online enrollment capabilities. The Internet and Web-based technology have significantly reduced the cost of check image storage and retrieval. In 2002, eStatement vendors began rolling out the next generation eStatements with check image access. This new product allows a credit union to use its Web site to promote self-service technology and provide instant access to information. More importantly, it can free up credit union personnel and take the credit union to the next level of customer service in the eyes of their members. Credit unions around the country are seeing significant adoption rates when this eStatement e-Check product is rolled out. Why? Members will gladly trade a paper statement for an electronic copy that includes 24/7 access to check images. This eStatement product creates member value and another opportunity for credit unions to save printing and postage costs, generate new business and retain existing members. Best news of all, for many credit unions the technology is already in place. It's just a matter of hooking it all together. 2003-2004 Challenges and Initiatives eStatements will continue to be one of the major strategic contact points between a credit union and its member. Realizing this, "early adopting" credit unions are looking to switch eStatement providers to take advantage of improved eStatement technology and product enhancements as their contracts expire. Many credit unions are seeking ways to recapture the lost marketing opportunities in the original eStatement products. With this in mind, eStatement providers are developing more interactivity and improving digital communication with every product release. eStatements are just one tool for communicating electronically with credit union members. In the near future, credit unions will be launching new initiatives to have the majority of the communication with an "online" member done electronically. Credit unions are planning to use the same secure, private message center for eStatements to load electronic communication such as eStatements, e-LERTs, notices and email. Of course, the message center will have the ability to deliver targeted offers for credit union products and services while the member is reviewing the digital communication messages from the credit union.

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