I was glad to see the high number of credit unions voting to remain in the credit card business. As an independent consultant and founder of a card consulting firm, I have been able to help credit unions realize the full potential of their card programs and the benefit to their members. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of all programs.billion dollar credit unions down to credit unions less than $50 million in assets. And surprisingly, the smaller credit unions have more successful card programs based on net income per account than some of the mega-credit unions. It is not always about size of the portfolio that matters. I have even seen credit card portfolios without a rewards program sometimes be the best performing card portfolio in the state. All in all, competition with the mega issuers should not be an issue when contemplating to get out of the card business.it is a complete myth that credit unions cannot compete.

When consulting with credit unions, those that are most contemplating selling are those which lack the resources and knowledge to operate a successful card program. They view the rising delinquencies, charge-offs and overall risk of their programs and question the reason for staying in the business. Most often, these rising numbers are due to poor underwriting policies, more than the nature of the product. These numbers are also what the portfolio breakers prey on as well. In a time when credit unions have full plates, the credit card program is often the one to be neglected and often expect once the card is issued, it will manage itself. Uh-uh.doesn't work that way. There are many credit unions operating very successful and competitive card programs. How are they able to compete? They are actively involved in managing and understanding the card program. They regularly analyze the strengths and weaknesses and opportunities within their programs. They are actively managing and monitoring fraud. Credit unions cannot expect the processors and VISA to be completely responsible for the fraud monitoring. As a Visa or MasterCard issuer, these credit unions must take responsibility for the card portfolio, just as they would an auto loan or unsecured loan portfolio.

If a credit union has no intention of actively working and monitoring the card program, then yes, perhaps they should contemplate getting out of the business. However, the fear of fraud alone should not be the reason. The members would be at a great disservice as I have seen first hand credit unions attempting to get back into the business after previously selling to MBNA and others.it's not pretty. Ondine Irving President Card Analysis Solutions Lake Bluff, Ill.

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