EDS Digitizes Debit, ATM Network Balancing; Cites Big Time Savings

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EDS has unveiled a new product it says has "digitized" the process of balancing debit card and ATM network transactions, significantly reducing the time needed to perform the task.

The product, known as EFT automated network balancing, allows EDS to host point-of-sale (POS) and ATM transaction information on its server. The transactions then are posted to members' accounts, and general ledger entries are recorded at the members' respective credit union.

Kendall Workman, director of EFT services in the credit union industry group at EDS, said the automation process will help CUs become more efficient.

"We've taken a manual process-reconciliation of debit card and ATM transactions, comparing electronic data from multiple sources, data files, and information from the core processing systems-and are presenting that to credit union management in a way that will help them grow their business," he said. "It gives credit unions a leg up on their competitors. Margins are very tight, and they are looking for ways to save on expenses."

"Plus, automation eliminates a lot of chances for human error you see in hand reconciliation," Workman added.

14 CUs In Beta-Test

Last year, 14 CUs volunteered to beta-test the EFT automated network balancing product. Lafayette Schools FCU in Lafayette, La., was the first. Representatives of two of those CUs spoke to The Credit Union Journal and said they were impressed.

Bob Blacklock, controller for Olin Community Credit Union, a 42,000-member CU with $275 million in assets located in Bethalto, Ill., said he saw the product in a breakout session at a conference last summer.

"I've seen other attempts at doing automated reconciliation by in-house programmers, so I knew what it would mean to the credit union to have something like that," said Blacklock.

Olin has 14,600 ATM and debit card holders and five ATMs, he said. The CU averages about 115,000 to 120,000 transactions per month.

"Reconciliation was time consuming, and it was something that was growing as we added more ATMs. There are internal restraints when you want to grow your department as the credit union grows," Blacklock said. "We started testing in October 2002, and once we got a few initial bugs worked out we knew we had something good. What once took us five to six hours now takes 20 minutes-and we have had no problems with it."

Suzie Hill, systems analyst for 34,000 member, $145-million Tucoemas FCU in Visalia, Calif., also was enthusiastic about the EFT automated network balancing product.

According to Hill, Tucoemas had developed several Excel programs for manual balancing before the CU began using the EDS product in December.

"EDS did the installation on its server, and tested us for a week to make sure everything was working," recalled Hill. "We went online on a Thursday, and by Friday the people who were training on it had it down."

"For us, reconciliation was a three-tiered balancing process," she continued. "We had to put the data into Excel manually. The EDS product took away the need for manual input and put everything on one screen."

Hill said in January Tucoemas Credit Union had 116,000 transactions on nine ATMs by its 10,000 ATM/debit cardholders with no problems.

EDS' Workman said there are other reconciliation products on the market, but he believes the company is the first to "take it to this level."

EDS charges a set-up fee, which covers installation and training, plus a tiered monthly fee based on the number of members a CU has.

Hill said Tucoemas FCU paid about $500 for set up, and $300 per month.

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