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Flexible. Constantly changing. That's in-house Internet banking at Pennsylvania State Employees' Credit Union (PSECU), according to Rick Long, vice president of IT.

And it's all in the name of self-service, he added.

In fact, "psecu home" deserves attention, according to the Cornerstone Advisors, Inc. GonzoBanker advisory team, which has lauded PSECU's in-house development as "pragmatic and creative."

Take online bill pay, for example. "Our Bill Payer system is the best-kept secret around," Long claimed. About 25 % of PSECU's 279,000 members use the service.

On the payment-processing side, PSECU Bill Payer has "virtually eliminated support phone calls from members." That's because the CU giant doesn't generate only one check to pay for a list of members' bills, said Long. Instead, the CU creates one check, per merchant, per member.

That way, only the merchant and the member have to deal with bad checks. "The check is made out to the merchant, with the member's name and address on it," Long explained. "If there's a problem with the check, the merchant sends it directly back to the member."

Cost-Savings Extended To Members

As with the $2-billion CU's other Internet banking applications, Bill Payer was developed in-house. Consequently, the CU saves enough money on bill pay vendor fees to offer the service free to members.

"If we had aligned with a provider, there's no way we'd continue to absorb bill pay costs," Long said.

With this summer's implementation of Mastercard Remote Payment and Presentment Service (RPPS), bill payer will make even more financial sense for PSECU. When PSECU writes a check to pay off a member's bill payer merchant, it spends about 60 cents per item, Long said. RPPS displaces paper, reducing the need to write checks and lowering the cost for each item to four cents.

Estimated annual savings for PSECU? About $400,000, according to Long.

PSECU's Internet banking glory is in reach for other CUs, too. In fact, 26 clients are using the year-old psecu home through PSECU's CUSO, eCU Technologies, formed last August.

"We provide anything you can imagine with home banking," said Long.

Long, also the vice president of IT for eCU Technologies, told The Credit Union Journal about "some of the hurdles that psecu home has overcome and nice features of psecu home that you don't see at other financial institutions:"

What's Included

UPost Home "blows away banks and other credit unions," Long said. Qualified members get immediate access to funds from deposits that are in the mail, simply by entering deposit information, such as check number and amount and maker, online.

* Members can view up to a year's worth of card transactions online, a perk made possible by PSECU's in-house credit card processing system.

* Credit and debit card balances are not only listed by total balance, but also by available balance. "The system shows if there are authorized transactions in the pipeline," he said. "We hyperlink the available balance to transactions that are in the pipeline, whether ATM, or an e-bill."

* Members can complete psecu home sign up and log-in "in a matter of minutes," said Long.

* Transfers between accounts and transfers within accounts are enabled, as well as a transaction filter, which allows members to search their transaction history according to type, such as ATM or deposits, or by vendor.

* The psecu home "preferences" page allows members to change the default log-in page, or change the default order in which transactions are listed.

* Members can get email alerts, for everything from share balances to credit purchases made.

* Coming up for psecu home members: person-to-person payments and inter-institution payments, as well as "AccountNet" account aggregation integrated with psecu home.

Long acknowledges PSECU President Greg Smith's philosophy when talking about the CU's approach to Internet banking: "A while ago you wouldn't have even dreamed of pumping your own gas," Long said. "It's the same for home banking. We want you to have everything at your disposal to do all your banking on your own."

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