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COLORADO SPRINGS – Ent Federal Credit Union must be doing something right online. The $1.7 billion dollar CU continues to see adoption numbers for its online products swell. One of the most impressive is that one-third of its membership (53,000 members), now receive their monthly statements electronically and no longer receive paper statements. This has resulted in a projected cost savings of $300,000 to $400,000 for 2005. “The credit for eStatements belongs to the front-line staff and their management team. They have done a fantastic job of educating our members on the timeliness, security and convenience of eStatements,” said Chad Graves, VP of Information Technology for Ent. The CU may be seeing such strong numbers because of how it handles its technology personnel. Two years ago it split out its eCommerce employees into their own department and away from the IT department. This has improved the relationship between eCommerce and the Marketing department and online products are now better marketed to the membership. “We now work more closely with marketing. While there are certainly technical aspects of electronic commerce, we think of electronic service delivery as just another channel we use to communicate with members, like direct mail, or advertising,” said Victoria Selfridge, manager of eCommerce. “The split of IT and eCommerce has been good. It has allowed eCommerce to strengthen their ties with the marketing department. At the same time, the working relationship between IT and eCommerce has remained strong due to our past ties,” said Graves. And the two tech departments still do share a lot. “We utilize shared environments for test and development servers, source code control practices and general development procedures,” said Graves. The eCommerce department has three members – a manager, Web designer/developer and an analyst. The IT department has 31 employees – six of whom are developers. Looking at other online stats, the CU has seen more than 55,000 members use online banking in the last 60 days. An average of 10,000 members use bill pay each month, paying an average of six bills per month during the first quarter of ’05. The CU made a unique adjustment to its bill pay pricing plan this February that has attracted higher usage. “We changed our pricing from being tied to a credit union relationship pricing structure, to being based solely on the members’ use of direct deposit. It resulted in a one month spike of 7% user growth from February to March,” said Selfridge, who noted that service is growing about 4% a month. Ent also streamlined its online lending applications, and has quickly found out that shorter applications mean more member participation. The applications not only have fewer questions than in the past, but now feature an “auto populate” feature that pulls member data into the app based on their online banking log in. The CU also implemented real-time decisioning. In March and April of ’05 an average of 582 applications came in online, compared to 324 per month last year. “We’ve been very pleased with this growth because our applicant quality has remained high. Just over 23% of all online applications are approved instantly online, and the overall online approval percentage is 40%,” said Selfridge. Ent has even found ways for technology to solve non-technology problems. “A few years ago, our CEO and CFO were concerned about the number of cars that we were repossessing that were going to dealer auction. They said, `wouldn’t it be great if we could offer some of our best cars to members via an eBay-like auction.’ Within a week, our eCommerce/IT department was able to provide a working proof of concept with a total expenditure of $350 for an off the shelf auction product that we were able to modify and integrate into our Web environment,” said Graves. The CU has already auctioned off 26 cars this year for approximately 82% of NADA value. One hidden benefit of the online auction has been auto loans. Twenty-two of the cars sold online this year were funded by Ent auto loans. The development of the online auto auction is indicative of Ent’s technology philosophy. It likes to buy solutions from third-party vendors, but also add its own in-house development flavor. “It is generally more cost effective and productive to purchase an existing technology that gets you 80% of the way and then customize the remaining 20%. This allows us to better utilize our development resources for solving unique credit union problems,” said Graves. Two good examples of this are Symitar and Corillian. “With both vendors we were able to purchase a solution that got us 95% of the way there, but allowed us the flexibility to customize that last 5% to make them more unique and valuable to Ent,” said Graves. [email protected]

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