PASADENA, Calif. – Who better to partner with than one of your credit union clients? That’s exactly what Liberty FiTECH thought when it wanted to expand its presence on the West Coast. Liberty FiTECH has been looking to market the ASP version of its MANAGER GOLD DP system to credit unions in the West. It had the software but not the hardware, or more importantly, the data center. That’s where Pasadena, Calif.-based LA Financial (formerly Courts & Records FCU) comes into play. LA Financial brought on a new tech guru in Mike Magro, VP and chief information officer for LA Financial. Magro, who worked for Internet giants Geocities, and eventually Yahoo! (which purchased Geocities) wanted to revamp LA Financial’s internal systems. “We were looking at putting a thin client network in our company to save on the cost of replacing old PCs,” said Magro. Talks started with Liberty FiTECH utilizing LA Financial as its data center for ASP clients in the West, and the CUSO concept was born. At first LA Financial and Liberty FiTECH were going to form a CUSO 50/50, but later decided that LA Financial would form the CUSO, dubbed Financial Data Partners, and Liberty would have a contractual agreement for joint servicing of Liberty FiTECH clients. In the simplest terms, Liberty FiTECH will provide the software (MANAGER GOLD) and LA Financial will provide the hardware (data center). Though it is a bit more in-depth than that, such as Liberty will provide sales efforts, and the two will actually share in supporting the product. What attracted Liberty FiTECH to LA Financial is Magro’s plan and the cutting edge mainframe LA Financial had planned. “It really is state-of-the-art. Frankly it was a lucky coincidence for us that they were renovating and upgrading their systems. It made it much more economical for us. They have a brand new mainframe. Everything we would want, they had,” said Liberty Enterprises EVP Leon Steinberg. The CUSO will offer a browser-based ASP version of MANAGER GOLD through the Internet. “The big advantage is there is no equipment at the credit union. No back-ups. Some of a credit union’s branches can run on a smaller bandwidth. There’s cost savings there. It’s non-invasive for them. They will have core DP without having to worry about any server or devices. They just need to be able to get to the Internet,” said Magro. The CUSO will be utilizing a Citrix thin-client product. “It takes your PC doing all the GUI at the PC level and transfers that back to the server. All the PCs become dumb terminals but they act as PCs so it’s still GUI,” said Magro. Magro said the Citrix product gives them the ability to develop a Web page and post applications as if you were in an internal network on the Net. “We built an extranet through a VPN, with 128-bit security,” he said. At its data center, Financial Data Partners, has a server farm of six Compaq DL 360s. The Liberty FiTECH system runs on a UNISYS mainframe, and Financial Data Partners uses CISCO gear for its fiber optic connections. Helping develop a new high-tech CUSO is a heck of a start for Magro, a veteran, in the credit union industry. But he isn’t totally new to credit unions. During college he worked at Xerox FCU and Lockheed FCU. “The credit union space doesn’t move at Internet company speed like it was 10 years ago, but credit unions have caught up and are progressively moving faster. Credit unions are hiring a lot more CIOs,” said Magro. As for Liberty FiTECH’s efforts out West, Steinberg believes it is a fertile market and hopes to start signing up new CU clients. He said the sweet spot for the product would be CUs with 2,000 to 30,000 members. Liberty FiTECH currently has 108 CU clients, with 67 being data center and 61 in-house. “We have made huge in-roads in the area of customer satisfaction. Our revenues were up 30%, which is the most important thing DP vendors look at,” said Steinberg. [email protected]

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