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BAYTOWN, Texas – The backbone of this credit union’s technology infrastructure is a Citrix server farm powering an array of emulated and embedded thin clients. From there, members can access their accounts through Digital Insight home banking, do bill pay with Metavante software, get their e-statements through a Lanvera system and have their transactions handled on a Symitar Episys platform supported from the core processor’s headquarters by a VPN tunneled through Cisco routers. A Cisco firewall and McAfee solutions arrayed in layers protects against outside intruders. And to sign on internally, employees don’t have to remember the passwords and user names for the 15 or so applications they may have available to them. They only have to remember to bring their thumbs, thanks to biometrics. Sounds like a billion-dollar credit union? Hardly. This is $147 million Community Resource Credit Union, which does all this and more with an IS department of four. “I know we sound real high tech and like this would all be very expensive, but really it saves us money. It makes our staff more productive and it helps us serve members better because we’re more efficient,” says Tamara Hudson, manager of information systems for the 21,000-member CU in suburban Houston. For savings, Hudson can point to the fact that the thin client system has allowed the credit union to keep in service such dinosaurs as PCs running Pentium 1 chips with 32 megs of memory, because the applications themselves are hosted on the servers. In fact, the credit union initially invested about $14,000 in Citrix thin client servers instead of replacing about 70 PCs, which could easily have cost $70,000 or more. And the biometric system – in which an employee simply signs on by pressing her or his thumb onto a reader on the side of an optical mouse – allows employees to use any computer in the network at any time. That gives flexibility that would not exist otherwise, and avoids the situation where member service could be slowed by forgotten passwords or malfunctioning computers, Hudson says. Hudson also notes with pride that her credit union was one of only three of the 600 or so Symitar credit unions using Citrix infrastructure like hers when it was deployed, and she says, the work is not done. “I have my eyes on a couple things right now,” she says. “I’m watching advances in the kiosk area, waiting for a completely automated standalone branch without the limitations of the ones I’m seeing right now. “We’re also looking at fraud prevention solutions, like YellowHammer from Jack Henry, and some scanning applications where members can simply scan their driver’s license and the account information and a picture of the member pops up on the teller’s screen.” Hudson has been with Community Resource for about four years and says the move to Citrix and other high-tech solutions really got going during a core conversion to Symitar in 2002. She credits the leadership of now-retired CIO Dean Banz with getting the high-tech ball rolling and adds: “I have to say I’m fortunate. My CEO, Hal Thomas, has the philosophy, and this is no joke, that we need to be high touch and high tech to provide the best member service we possibly can, and that’s how he leads his credit union. I also have the support of my boss, our executive vice president, Harold Bates. I’m able to bring new technology ideas to him and he’s always open. “Our technology advancements are driven by business needs and finding the best solutions that fit, and I’m fortunate that my superiors let me bring that in to enhance our performance.” -

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