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MADISON, Wis. – One year after it was organized to tap the credit union industry’s power of innovation, Filene Research Institute’s i3 group has released its progress report, Innovation: Novel Ideas from Next Generation Credit Union Leaders. Authored by Mark Meyer, director of innovation for Filene, the report summarizes four areas of interest to credit unions the group has already tackled for “Emphasis on Implementation.” They include: * intergenerational credit cards that allow family members without credit to establish a credit history under the guidance of another family member who already has established a good credit history; * lifestyle lending which offers unsecured loans for elective medical procedures that are becoming mainstream at a time when health insurance programs are becoming more limited, health care costs continue to escalate, and procedures that were once covered are being excluded from coverage if they’re identified as not being medically necessary. Several credit unions are already involved in lifestyle lending such as Arrowhead CU and Toledo Area Community CU. * communicating with specific member segments through new technologies such as Weblogs, chat programs and instant messaging. New and emerging technology offers credit unions tremendous opportunity to communicate with targeted segments of their membership. As technology evolves and member expectations on how to gather information on their financial needs change, credit unions have to be able to adapt and implement forums to enhance member interaction; * educating young adults in effectively managing their use of credit cards. “Many financial institutions aggressively marketing credit cards to young adults appear oblivious to the damage they are doing, and continue to provide credit limits beyond the ability to repay.” Meyer wrote. The i3group conducted interviews with college students about their credit card use and experience. They discerned from those interviews, Meyer stated, that in many cases, young adults and credit cards do not mix. Filene says 2005 projects for the i3 group are already in development and include strategies to increase credit union membership. There are currently 26 members of i3 who serve staggered three-year terms. An additional group of 10 persons will join the group in 2005. -

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