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There’s no doubt that Fiserv’s acquisition of the EDS Credit Union Industry Group (CUIG) for $218 million is the largest transaction in the history of the credit union technology industry. As news of the transaction has circulated in the last weeks and months, many have speculated about the impact this business combination will have on our industry and on the clients now served by Fiserv. Only time will tell. However, let me offer an insider’s perspective. The benefits of this transaction to Fiserv were apparent from the beginning. Fiserv gains more than 1,500 new clients, four core-processing platforms, and several value-add capabilities that can be leveraged across its credit union client base, which now exceeds 3,000. More importantly, Fiserv broadens its knowledge base by adding more than 450 professionals who average 10-plus years of experience in technology and the credit union industry. What might not be so apparent are the immediate benefits that come to CUIG clients when Fiserv’s industry commitment is combined with CUIG’s 30 years of experience in serving every segment within that industry. Key benefits exist in the areas of increased product investment, tighter application integration, and a broadened industry view. Fiserv has committed its support to CUIG’s planned investment into strategic development initiatives. Fiserv recognized that these initiatives would allow credit unions to generate the business efficiencies they need to compete successfully through tighter integration of applications across the credit union enterprise. That is why, with Fiserv’s support, CUIG is exploiting new technologies to expand the openness of its core processing systems, enhance its front-end platforms, and more tightly integrate third party applications. For our CUBE and CUBICS core products, this means moving into a completely Microsoft .Net environment. For our Premier and Charlotte core-processing solutions, this means combining the power of a Web services architecture with standard XML transaction sets to allow open and cost-effective communication between applications. Fiserv and CUIG are also working to integrate the broadened portfolio of products and services and make them available to all Fiserv credit union clients. CUIG has long believed in the power of partnering and integrating services from other businesses to bring additional value to its credit union clients. Fiserv’s focus on the broader financial services marketplace provides access to a wealth of knowledge and tools we can leverage to bring new solutions to market more rapidly. Work is already moving forward in areas such as commercial accounts. Likewise, credit unions can also expect many of CUIG’s products to be integrated with the Fiserv portfolio and offered to clients of other Fiserv business units. These products include WISDOMc, a financial management suite designed specifically for credit unions; Virtual Branchr, a full suite of consumer Internet financial services applications; and XROADS, a file transfer utility that creates a single communication hub for all business critical data. Our clients will benefit from these development and integration initiatives while enjoying the continuity of working with the people and products they trust. We will also enhance operations and product capabilities, but only if they generate business benefit for our clients. Finally, the acquisition makes Fiserv a company that serves the entire market from the smallest credit union to the largest. CUIG’s CUBICS product has a strong position among smaller credit unions, and its move to Microsoft .Net with the upcoming release of CUBICSPlus improves that position by creating cost effective access to online ATMs, debit cards, Internet banking and bill payment. More than 100 of the existing CUBICS customers have signed up for CUBICSPlus, which is scheduled for release in January 2004. All of these factors put CUIG and Fiserv in a position to create capabilities that make the industry itself more competitive. The challenge for us, I believe, is to collaborate and execute on “white space” opportunities where quantum leaps can be achieved, while maintaining the healthy competition that keeps us focused on incremental improvement. Clearly, the opportunity is there and, for those of us who’ve spent our entire careers serving this industry, what more can you ask?

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