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HELENA, Mont. – Some good, old-fashioned brainstorming has resulted in the small credit unions of the Big Sky Country coming up with a way to affordably stake their claim on the World Wide Web. Through a new service from the Montana Credit Union Network called EzCU.net, they’re now paying $500 apiece for a Web site template that can be easily customized to fit their individual looks and needs, as well as integrate with online banking and other services as they’re added. Seventeen of the Network’s 70 credit unions – ranging in asset size from $1 million to $17 million – have signed up so far, says Scott Morrison, assistant vice president for communications and public relations. EzCU.net is a joint offering with AFFCOM Inc., a Web services firm in Whitehall that already was working with the Network when the idea surfaced at a meeting of small credit unions. “Ron Tuohimaa of AFFCOM already was our Webmaster and happened to be at the meeting when the topic of affordable Web site solutions came up,” Morrison says. “He said, `You know, I bet I could put together a template that everyone can use,’ and this is where we’ve now gone with it.” The cost is $500. That doesn’t include the price of the individual URL and space on the shared template’s Web site, which is hosted by a CUSO in Helena, Unipro Systems Ltd. But it does include the ability to customize the individual site to suit the CU’s needs and allows credit unions that might not otherwise be able to afford their own place in cyberspace. Dave Stenberg would agree. “I think it’s a good entre for smaller credit unions that would have budgetary and expertise challenges in doing this,” says the manager of $12.5 million Flathead Credit Union (www.flatheadcreditunion.com) in Kalispell. Stenberg was at the meeting where the idea came up – “We call it our Foothills Gathering,” he says – and now is an EzCU.net user who says his 12,500-member CU was “able to greatly diminish our fees” compared with its previous provider. He also finds it very user friendly. “We can go in there and change text, update rates, add services we want to promote. And we’re in the process of working with our data processor – Harland Financial Solutions – to set up the home banking piece,” Stenberg says. “It doesn’t matter if we’re a $12 million or a billion-dollar credit union when we can provide those services that our members expect of us,” he says. -

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