Rural Appalachian area in Tennessee. (Source: Shutterstock)

The $233 million Gray, Tenn.-based Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union deployed IMM eSign for credit unions to provide modern, financial tools and services to underserved individuals and businesses in rural communities.

ACFCU’s community includes a service area of approximately 260,000 residents of which 26% live below the poverty line and 28% are unbanked or underbanked. Many major banks left the area due to a lack of population and the high cost of providing adequate bank services.

With IMM eSign, from Rahway, N.J., IMM, which specializes in e-signature and digital transaction solutions for financial institutions, the credit union now delivers mainstream financial services and banking capabilities to this underserved market.

The credit union, which serves areas in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky, positioned itself where traditional brick and mortar locations are not easily accessible. Members can complete end-to-end transactions in a digital, self-service environment at a time and place most convenient to their schedule regardless of the branch’s operating hours.

Additionally, the lack of viable brick and mortar banking services left many area residents vulnerable to predatory lending. Together with IMM, the credit union now provides traditional loan products to members in even the most remote locations. IMM eSign works with the credit union’s online loan application and loan origination systems enabling users to complete and submit new account forms, loan applications or loan closing documents from anywhere that is convenient for the user. In 2015, ACFCU originated $62 million in loans 95% of which were to underserved communities.

ACFCU’s vice president of technology and electronic services, Joe Jackson, said, “Our partnership with IMM has been instrumental in advancing our mission to improve the financial health of our community. We view IMM as an extension of our team and have found their in-depth knowledge of the credit union industry and the continued collaboration between our teams to be invaluable.”

Jackson added, “IMM’s unique ability to interface with our existing systems ensured the digital tools and services were quickly adopted by our employees and our members. The feedback we’ve received has been tremendous – the intuitive design ensures it is easy to navigate for all users, regardless of previous technical experience.” Jackson pointed out this is pivotal to ensuring they can sustain momentum and meet the long-term needs of current members, while continuing to reach underserved individuals and small business owners in the community.

The credit union is the middle of converting to Corelation’s KeyStone core platform and cited IMM’s ability to easily and quickly integrate with existing business apps as a key advantage of IMM eSign.

Michael Ball, vice president of markets and strategy for IMM, said. “The credit union can expand its geographic reach without adding new branches or resources. ACFCU is an excellent example of how digital technology can positively impact members, enabling them to quickly complete transactions at their convenience. Not only has the credit union been able to boost productivity across the entire organization, but it also has enriched the overall financial health of an entire region by providing innovative solutions to ensure members have access to modern banking tools and services even in the most rural communities.”

With IMM eSign for Credit Unions, institutions can deliver a complete end-to-end digital processing environment and eliminate virtually all paper-based procedures in favor of electronic transaction handling. Credit unions use the IMM solution to simplify the account opening process, streamline loan originations, lending disclosure delivery and facilitate digital loan closings.