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HARRISBURG, Va. – It’s safe to say that the [email protected] experiment is over and the once controversial product, which relies on a mixture of online technology and traditional mail, has proven it is not a fraud nightmare, as many predicted when Pennsylvania State Employees CU launched the product some four years ago. More importantly, it’s proving to be a vital tool for credit unions looking to provide members with another channel to submit deposits, particularly for a credit union like PSECU which is as close to branchless as it gets. At press time, Credit Union Times learned that Jack Henry & Associates has signed a strategic marketing agreement with eCU Technologies, PSECU’s tech CUSO, to market [email protected] to its Symitar credit union clients. Approximately 425 credit unions are on the Symitar core processing system. eCU Technologies has already been offering UPost as one of its products, but the Jack Henry deal will help broaden the product’s reach to more institutions and validates it approaching mainstream status. Here’s how [email protected] works. Members go online and enter in a deposit amount, get instant credit, and then mail in the deposit later in a special [email protected] envelope. The early knock on it was that it was ripe for fraudsters. The potential for members to enter a deposit, quickly withdraw the cash and defraud the CU, was touted by nay sayers, but the statistics don’t lie. According to PSECU CEO Greg Smith, 850,000 unique [email protected] sessions have been processed for a value of just under $400 million. The losses are an anemic $17,000, or $4 for every $100,000. “It’s the lowest loss ratio we have. We lose more on checks that go bad at the counter,” said Smith. PSECU estimates that a UPost transaction is $1.10 cheaper than an ATM deposit or a deposit at the teller line. It even incorporates a five-day float time into the cost, as it assumes most deposits won’t make it to PSECU for at least five days. PSECU’s stats indicate members don’t procrastinate in mailing their UPost checks. By the end of the sixth day after the deposit was initially posted online by the member, PSECU has 98% of the checks in hand. Smith said if it gets to the seventh or eighth day and PSECU still hasn’t seen a member’s deposit, it will place a friendly reminder call to the member. The average deposit amount is approximately $470, which is close to its average ATM deposit of $600. Allan Brunner, COO of eCU Technologies, said so far the CUSO has sold the product to 14 credit unions, ranging from $125 million to $2 billion in assets. “We just came out with a service bureau model where we will host UPost here in Harrisburg. That now opens up the market to even smaller credit unions,” said Brunner. eCU is a Microsoft shop. UPost uses a .Net framework and SQL servers sit on the back-end database. Brunner said part of UPost’s success is the parameters credit unions put in place to ensure the right members are using it. “We don’t give UPost to every single member. It’s for our A-plus members,” he said. In order to qualify, members can’t have any delinquencies on PSECU loans, and must maintain a minimum balance in their checking and savings accounts. Brunner said since they have a checking account, they’ve already been through some fraud and credit screening. On the mail side, PSECU provides members with pre-addressed envelopes. The front of the envelopes have a spot for the member to enter the unique UPost session number from the deposit they made online. This helps PSECU identify deposits quickly. PSECU does not offer postage-paid envelopes. Brunner said there have a been a few members who’ve complained about that, but with the price of gas, the stamp is likely cheaper than if the member drove to an ATM or branch, the CU reasons. PSECU’s UPost offering is also enhanced by its TWS check clearing program. “Based on the success several of our clients are already experiencing with UPost, we are confident this innovative solution is an excellent addition to our growing suite of complementary products and services,” said Kathy Hooker-Burress, president of Symitar, said. “We expect UPost will generate tangible value for our clients, additional benefits for their members, and one more reason for today’s convenience-oriented consumers to turn to credit unions for their financial services.” UPost is one of many offerings of eCU Technologies, a CUSO which specializes in assisting CUs in getting more out of their Symitar core system. The CUSO offers consulting, interfaces, system integration, home banking, kiosks and other tech-focused products. It currently has 97 CU clients and expects to reach 100 by year-end. Brunner did stress that while its core business will likely always be Symitar shop CUs, UPost will be offered to other core processing CUs. For example, it already has interfaces with USERS and Summit, and is currently working on XP Systems. eCU Technologies was hit by an HR issue earlier this year, when four of its consultants based in the San Diego area left the CUSO to form a competing firm. Brunner said eCU Technologies has since added staffers and is running on all cylinders. He noted that four of the CUSO’s 22 employees are dedicated just for UPost and that is likely to increase as more CUs come on board. [email protected]

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