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SEATTLE – BECU is using a lot of businesses to help grow its own business, services that is. Technology solutions from a list of well-known vendors form the infrastructure that $5.1 billion BECU is using to serve what credit unions across the country are eyeing as a prime market – small-business owners. The reasons for this interest, and for tech-savvy BECU to commit its resources and people heavily to this segment, are pretty clear. “We believe that one third of our consumer member base is involved in the small-business market,” said Arnie Gunderson, director of small-business services for 391,000-member BECU. To serve that growing one-third, the credit union has formed BECU Small Business Services. And to serve BECU Small Business Services, an array of vendors have been called upon, including: * APPRO, for its consumer and small-business loan origination system. * Open Solutions for its core transaction and account servicing for consumer and small business accounts. * Fiserv, for its ATM processing and drivers. * qbt Systems, for its MultiPoint integration engine that enables real-time transactions between back-end systems and remote channels. * Corillian, for its online banking, including a small-business module. Other needs are handled in-house, including the creation of a loan-document preparation system called Papyrus. “We attempt to leverage each application as much as possible,” said Jesse Douglas, BECU’s director of program management. “Our overarching strategy is to purchase `best of breed’ and keep as close as possible to being a `buy, don’t make’ shop.” That creates a lot of crossover capabilities between consumer and business functionalities, just as there among the members themselves who are using them. “We now have 1,300 small-business members, and the majority are or were existing consumer members,” Gunderson said. An example of using an existing relationship to serve the new business market is with Corillian, which now provides a business-services module that can allow such specialized functions as “tiered authority.” Tiered authority allows a business to have multiple users with varying levels of access, said BECU project manager Sarah Steves. The host system stores the permissions and they’re carried through the online banking system. At the user end, each business has a designated administrator and “then may have sub-users with varied levels of access to accounts and services,” Steves said. “This allows businesses to self-manage their accounts and users while giving them greater control over their accounts at BECU,” she said. Corillian’s vice president of marketing, Chuck Drake, said the tiered authority capability “is a unique differentiator for us. It allows the small-business owner to delegate certain aspects of the finances to their account, payroll manager or other employee who can then pay bills, transfer money or view account information.” Limits can be sent on which accounts each person can access and how much money they can transact, Drake said, “giving the small-business owner ultimate flexibility in managing the finances of their company.” At BECU, those management options now include online and telephone banking, deposit and loan products including SBA loans, and ATM, payroll and merchant card services. Gunderson said BECU also is now considering an ASP model for new products, such as bill payment and an enhanced ATM offering. “We’re definitely using technology to its most current extent, but we’re not using bleeding-edge technology and we’re not planning to,” said the BECU small-business services director. “We are, however, looking at new technology solutions as they present themselves, and we’ll use them when they’re appropriate.” -

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