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The new generation of banking applications offers significant means of cutting costs; from streamlining membership and loan operations to reducing the labor and expense of sending monthly statements. Some of these organizational efficiencies are so significant they can pay for themselves in as little as a year. For instance, online membership and loan applications often have in-branch versions that offer tools to the member service representatives (MSRs) to eliminate redundant clerical work and allow them to spend more time developing business relationships with their members. These available advances and more are why credit unions should consider upgrading their Internet banking software, even if it works, What Your Next Generation of Internet Banking Applications Should Do Your next generation of applications can and should work directly with your host system to reduce or eliminate re-entry of data. They should offer interoperability and interactivity from application to application while they should have ability to be brought online individually. Let’s look at the six most important applications you rely upon every day: Internet Banking Of course, all of the basics of balance inquiries, account history, and check clearance status must be present. The look and feel of your online banking should be identical (or nearly so) to your current Web site. Your new Internet banking application should include the ability to place banner ads and promotional messages keyed to the members activities. Transfers between other accounts should be available. The account holder should be able to update personal information securely, create stop payments, view pending transactions and submit questions to MSRs. These features not only the benefit the end user, they also reduce MSR clerical loads by allowing the member to submit requests and data themselves. This application, more than any other, needs to be extensible to allow for future additions of new banking applications and components (including components your in-house staff may develop). Online Membership Application Mailed in applications just aren’t acceptable anymore. Submitted data should be written to the host system. Duplicate accounts are ruled out automatically and fraud protection should be available or built-in to the system. Compliance with OFAC and the Patriot Act should be considered. ATM card records should be created. New accounts should have the ability to be funded immediately through online ACH transfers. Online ACH Transfer Members should have the ability to schedule transfers at their convenience, and they should be able to set periodic transfers in advance. The application should allow trial deposits and pre-notes to verify account validity and ownership. Be sure that the application has adequate reporting capabilities that flag transfer risks, NSF transactions and details of failed transactions. E-statements While not every member will opt out of receiving printed statements, every one that does contributes to the ROI for this upgrade. E-statements should be created on-the-fly from your existing data, eliminating the .PDF storage nightmare. Virtually anything you mail can be sent electronically, saving you printing, postage and fulfillment costs. Automated Lending Loan application automation can automatically pull credit reports and import co-applicant data. If the applicant’s data meets your criteria, the loan can be approved immediately with rates and terms delivered to them on the spot. An effective loan automation product should also have in-branch tools that MSRs can utilize when members come into their office. Skip-A-Payment Skip payment programs should allow you to dictate detailed criteria to qualify member requests without manual evaluation. Automation should advance the loan payment due date, configure the minimum time elapsed before a member is eligible to skip a payment again, and immediately deduct the fee from the member’s account. Cost, Value and ROI The success of your Internet banking program will depend on whether it satisfies member needs, reduces costs, increases productivity and/or generates revenue. An application like Skip-A-Pay commonly includes a per-use fee. That fee generates traceable revenue and is simple to track in terms of ROI. Conversely, an electronic statement application will be best evaluated by the amount saved on postage, materials and labor. The amount of marketing emphasis placed on promotion of these services to your members will affect the returns significantly. When considering a new technology purchase, interview existing users of the application. Ask hard questions about their implementation methodology and timeframe to launch. An experienced developer should be able to provide detailed schedules and diagrams outlining their plan. Long implementation and testing periods often negatively affect the staff’s enthusiasm for new products no matter how promising the final product might be. Be sure to ask current users about the developers’ quality of technical support programs as well. Revisiting the development of your Internet banking applications may not be an undertaking you’re looking forward to, but the rewards can be very significant.

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