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In a year that brings new challenges, the Filene Research Institute is hoping to provide credit unions some fresh solutions with its “Key Findings: Blueprints for Innovation” report from its i3 innovation group.Authored by Chief Innovation Officer Denise Gabel, the report features 12 new idea blueprints and three updated blueprints gaining national traction: prize-linked savings, the savings revolution and virtual finance designed to fuel credit union growth.“We encourage credit union innovators to keep this catalog of ideas at hand as they develop their organization’s goals and tactics for today’s challenging times,” said Gabel, “and consider how these solutions may meet member needs.”“Blueprints for Innovation” includes i3 team outputs developed to help credit union members build wealth, navigate financial waters, meet life’s milestones, make community connections and borrow.For example, one new idea dubbed unite uses the current trend of social networking to the advantage of both credit unions and their members to deepen member relationships and to create a friendly level of peer pressure that stimulates new business.Here is how it would work. Individuals create their own unite group consisting of up to 20 members. Use of credit union products and services such as checking accounts, debit cards, online bill payment and credit cards will qualify the group to earn points. Points will be tracked for the entire group, and as certain point targets are reached, everyone in the group benefits.For example, at the first threshold, each member of the group might be entitled to a 25 basis point discount on his or her next consumer loan or a similar rate increase on a time certificate. At higher point levels, benefits may include items such as credit consultations, waived fees, free checks, free safe deposit boxes and discounted warranty products. Bonus points will be given to the group for recruiting new members to join the credit union.According to Gabel, credit unions should review all the ideas and evaluate the fit for their organizations, then think about how the ideas might be improved and customized in the spirit of open source innovation. Full concept documents are available at filene.org/home/innovation.

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