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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tim Simpson and his tech-savvy employer, Community First Credit Union of Florida, aren’t afraid to think out of the box, and they like to take the box-maker with them when they can. Simpson is vice president of IT at $870 million Community First, which has been using the services and products of California-based Integrated Data Systems to help it meet its growing service and technology needs. That often involves customizing interfaces with the CU’s Symitar core platform and modifying out-of-the-box versions of IDS’ online banking platform and other solutions, but not simply for the sake of doing it. “When we identify a business need, we work very hard to identify a technology that will enable us to better serve our members,” Simpson says. “That sometimes puts us out on the leading edge, but that’s not our reason for doing it. I believe that to stay competitive you need to be out on the cutting edge and progressive, and we’re willing to stretch the limits of not only our staff but the companies we do business with,” Simpson says. “I believe it produces a better product and opens the door to more creative solutions,” he says. Bob Vandehey, director of product development at IDS, notes that input from clients like Simpson has been a major factor in the new iteration of its Internet banking platform, Integrated VantagePoint. Built on Microsoft’s .NET technology, the software is ready to go out of the box, Vandehey says, but also uses snap-in modules, developed in-house or purchased from a third-party or IDS, which allow in-house staff to quickly expand and customize functionality. IDS, which is set to be sold Online Resources Corp.(see item on this page), developed Internet banking software with Wescom Credit Union and its CUSO, Wescom Resources Group, and had been in an LLC partnership with them before going their separate ways in June 2003. It now has about 45 credit union clients, including eight on its Internet banking platform, which is unique in its development on a “portal platform metaphor,” Vandehey says. Portals platforms are used for managing large amounts of content generally using Web interfaces and tabs, and IDS extended that concept into the ability for credit unions to easily customize its online banking software. Instead of having to individually code every change a customer wants to make, a software module is installed in the online banking portal – “much like a program in Windows,” Vandehey says – that allows the changes to be made using tabs, with the coding work going on in the background. The concept has been extended to the company’s other products – including alerts, skip-a-pay, e-statements and loan applications – and support is being developed for credit unions using Summit Information Systems and other core platforms as well as the current Symitar support, Vandehey says. One credit union in Wisconsin used the software to add the ability to vote for board members to its online banking site, while another in California is using it to create transaction histories for a conversion to the Symitar core platform, Vandehey says. At Community First (www.communityfirstfl.org), Simpson and his staff are working with IDS to implement a customized indirect lending platform that will complement the existing direct lending platform, and also together developed an interface between the core platform and an automated collections program from Akcelerant. “It’s not a conscious decision on our part to not use products right out of the box every time,” Simpson says, adding that his credit union’s innovative ways begin at the top with his board and CEO, John Hirabayashi. “But we look at what we’re trying to accomplish and what our needs are, and if what comes out of the box doesn’t help us reach our goals, which are ultimately driven by our members, then we think outside the box, and often times that’s a custom solution.” [email protected]

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