Matt Weidler, IT coordinator for Evangelical Christian Credit Union, has won the first THINK prize for his idea to allow consumers to access their funds from ATMs via mobile phones. Weidler told conference attendees that he came up with the idea after having forgotten his ATM card many times and thought, “Why shouldn’t I be able to do this with a cell phone that I always have?”

The prize brings Weidler’s CU $10,000 in seed money as well as technical and other developmental support.

CO-OP Financial Services announced the prize last year as a way of encouraging innovation, according to Caroline Lane, senior vice president for business development at CO-OP Financial Services.

Lane told the attendees that almost 100 people entered and that CO-OP and Filene had narrowed down the entrees by examining them on their impact, creativity, cooperative potential and possible implementation. Once semifinalists were chosen, those entrants had to submit formal business plans for their projects. Lane acknowledged that some of the decisions came down to “razor-thin margins.”

Other finalists included Shari Storm, chief marketing officer for Verity Credit Union, who had proposed credit unions develop and use a smartphone app called “Squirrel” because it will help members squirrel away money they would have otherwise spent.

The third finalist, Candace Vogelsong, marketing specialist at Community Powered FCU, developed an initiative to help CUs start to use social media more effectively.