WALLINGFORD, Conn. – When U.S. Central announced it would be moving away from the EDS/Corporate Credit Union Network and to a Symitar system, it opened the door for corporates to move their processing to Symitar, but another processor has also emerged as a favorite for corporates -Open Solutions Inc. OSI now has four good-sized corporates as clients. Corporate One, Georgia Central CU, Southeast Corporate and Constitution State Corporate are now all OSI clients. Why didn't these corporates take the U.S. Central endorsement of Symitar and move to a Symitar system? Leaders from the corporates say OSI's Oracle database and business functionality (including online cash management) were the keys to its decision. "Because of the open architecture, it's easily integrated with other systems. It also suited our requirements better because it's a B2B model," said Greg Moore, president/CEO of Georgia Central CU. Moore said it's also easier to find people with an expertise in Oracle. Mickey Goldwasser, spokersperson for OSI, said although OSI didn't win the core processing contract from U.S. Central, it benefited from the process because corporates also got a first-hand look at the OSI system. Goldwasser said corporates are also more commercial oriented than natural person CUs so they are attracted to OSI's business functionality. "We are fortunate our business functions were born in our banking system, and now credit unions want them," said Goldwasser. Constitution State Corporate's Smart SoureSolutions CUSO developed its own front end – OpenXchange – for the OSI system for members to access their Constitution accounts online. Greg Gallant, president of SmartSource, said Constitution wanted an in-house product no matter what, so it was not going to choose the U.S. Central/Symitar service bureau system. Gallant said OpenXchange is generating interest from other corporates. "We've talked to a number of corporates about what we're doing and we have been asked if we were willing to sell OpenXchange. The biggest thing for us is having ownership of our front end. That defines our brand identity to the credit union industry," said Gallant, who said for now SmartSource won't sell the front-end. "I think you're starting to see technology becoming a differentiating factor in the corporate system," said Gallant. What's Gallant's take on some corporates not following U.S. Central's lead and going to Symitar? He said the follow the leader mentality of corporate is going away. Constitution is a corporate with a technology bent. Its SmartSource Soulutions CUSO has had lots of success with its Cuboardroom product and Web site development. Interesting, though the corporate is headquartered in Connecticut, the bulk of the tech staff for the CUSO is in Kansas City. Why? "That's where I found them and because of technology it's not really a requirement to have them right next door," said Gallant. Despite some corporates going to OSI, U.S. Central is pleased with the move many corporates are making to Symitar. Bob Amundson, SVP of Correspondent Services for U.S. Central, said 11 corporates are signed up so far and there is strong interest from 10 others. "I think if we're doing our job as the aggregator for the industry, we'd love to see every one use a common system, but at the same time I think OSI has a great system," said Amundson. Even if corporates don't go with Symitar for core processing, they will be linking to the Symitar system for settlement, safekeeping and other core U.S. Central offerings. U.S. Central is not putting the burden on corporates not using Symitar to develop a front-end. "We think it's our responsibility to create the portals to them," said Amundson. He believes some corporates are really trying to distinguish themselves through technology so they chose not to go with the U.S. Central/Symitar system – they want something where they can develop a unique presence. At the time of this interview, Amundson was on a road trip holding meetings with corporates about the new U.S. Central system. A number of Symitar reps were on hand to answer any questions. Amundson said he's very impressed with Symitar so far. "I think a new Callahan study came out today that shows of the 59 data processing conversions done by credit unions over $100 million, 25 were done by Symitar. You have to be impressed by their market share. Amundson did admit that some of the very biggest corporate credit unions are holding back on choosing a system, waiting to see how the conversion from the EDS to Symitar system goes. "I can't blame them. The great thing we did is we have until November 2005, so there's plenty of time to work things out." [email protected]

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