Advice For Smaller CUs In Better Using E-Services

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.-Small credit unions can still compete with much larger players in e-services, according to a number of analysts-providing they are smart with their investments.

"From cost point of view I would invite all of them to jump on the bandwagon," said uMonitor President/CEO Dinesh Sheth. "If you sit down with the CFO and do the analysis this is really a no-brainer from a financial point of view."

Sheth noted that popularly adopted products such as online account opening and funding products typically pay for themselves in less than a year as the result of cross-selling those who joined through that channel. With outsourcing, such an online channel can cost as little as a few thousand dollars per year. But Sheth noted that many smaller CUs that have yet to adopt various e-services are simply focusing on other priorities and pushing technology adoption aside for now.

Caroline Lane, SVP-Business Development & Marketing at CO-OP Financial Services, suggested smaller CUs utilize CUSOs and share research and development expenses. Looking to existing solutions and adapting them to their brands is also an economical way to implement new products.

"I've heard horror stories about small credit unions spending $100,000 on a mobile application," she said. "[Mobile apps] have already been done."

Besides conventional online banking, Albert Ko, SVP-Consumer Solutions with Intuit Financial Services, argued that CUs with a limited technology budget look next to personal financial management solutions. PFM solutions, he said are a "big first step" in cementing member relationships, especially with those who joined through impersonal channels.

"People want a single place to manage their complete financial pictures...people want an online solution and the majority of folks want it through their financial institutions," Ko said. "Once you do that, it empowers the credit union with a tremendous amount of information on which to build."

That information gives CUs the opportunity to make their electronic channels more personal and better target their cross-selling pitches.

But due-diligence is required before implementing an e-services strategy, cautioned Loretta Weller-Mowers, SVP of e-Commerce at San Diego County CU, warning against simply following the hot trends when deciding on new products.

"It is really about understanding the types of channels their members want to use and what makes the best business sense for them," she said.

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