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Based on Mario Puzo’s epic novel – arguably one of the best movies of all time – The Godfather offers sage advice for business leaders. Don Corleone advised: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Well, it seems that some in the credit union movement have taken that advice to heart, well if not to heart, then surely to their wallets. Confused? Let me set the scene: The recent NAFCU Conference in Boston, Mass. where Elan Financial Services was designated as a “preferred partner” for NAFCU members. Fast forward to: a story in the August 6 issue of Credit Union Times, written by David Morrison, titled “Elan Stepping onto the EFT State.” The story, about Elan Financial Services, correctly identified it as a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. Elan Financial operates two ATM networks, Minibank and FastBank. They have, of late, become an ATM player in switching transactions for credit unions. Troy Cullen, Elan’s marketing spokesman was quoted as saying that Elan’s combination of two existing networks “makes us the logical choice” for an increasing number of credit unions. Cullen also noted that “not many people can beat us on price.” Why is NAFCU Services Corp. giving its prestigious endorsement to a bank-owned provider and making a profit from it so that those same banks can take money from credit unions and give it to the American Bankers Association? Isn’t the ABA still waging war against us? Isn’t the ABA trying to dismantle the tax exemption of not-for-profit credit unions? Doesn’t that fly in the face of everything we are fighting for? Doesn’t it diminish our own efforts to create a national, surcharge free ATM network? Is a discount offered to NAFCU members who sign with Elan the price the rest of the movement must pay so that they can profit from it? Isn’t this counterproductive to long-term credit union interests? From one side of its mouth, NAFCU denounces bank attacks on credit unions. From the other side, they are asking credit unions to do business with them. As a long time member of NAFCU, I would hope that other member credit unions of NAFCU would join with me in taking exception to siding with a bank rather than seeking a way to work within the credit union family. I am concerned that NAFCU didn’t give any thought to the greater interests of the credit union industry, and why, given all the other options in the marketplace, they went with a bank. J. Keith Powell President/CEO Patent and Trademark FCU Arlington, Va.

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