Making Their Lists, Spellchecking It Twice

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Sure, that guy using homebanking wears a red suit and his belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly-but can you be SURE he's who he says he is?

Credit union technology folks want to be sure. In fact, positive member identification is what CIOs desire most for 2006, according to many participants of The Credit Union Journal's fourth annual Technology Wish List.

"Without a doubt, the 'hot' technology for 2006 will be two-factor online banking authentication," asserted Rick Long, vice president, IT, at $2.3-billion Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU) in Harrisburg.

"The slickest retail technology in the world won't attract members if they don't have confidence in your ability to safeguard their money and privacy," agreed Jim St.Peter, manager of technology and operations at $491-million New England FCU in Williston, Vt., which will invest next year in its CUSO's mutual authentication solution, Safe2Login.

Credit unions and their technology vendors will be "scrambling" to meet NCUA and Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC) authentication regulations by the end of 2006, added Long.

At the same time, what's "hot" could certainly cool off.

Although two-factor authentication is a "must" for BECU in Seattle, what most IT organizations should continue to wish for is "implementation, agility and execution," according to Butch Leonardson, CIO at the $5.6-billion CU.

Indeed, there's more to 2006 than online authentication-IT officers at CUs from $20-million to $5-billion in assets listed the technologies they wish to see coming down the chimney.

Hot, Warm, and Dual Recovery Sites

Naturally, disaster recovery technologies appeared on CU wishlists.

Pennsylvania State Employees CU plans to replicate 40 of its most critical systems at its new hot-site, including a redundant private branch exchange telephone network, said Long.

iQ CU's warm-site will include a web server, Internet router and dynamic address server, said Jim Morrell, CIO at the $330-million Vancouver, Wash-based CU. "I use the term 'warm-site' loosely to mean the duplication of some key network infrastructure located at another one of our facilities."

And $3.3-billion Wescom CU in Pasadena, Calif. will focus on its dual processing operation centers, said Rob Guilford, senior vice president, IT.

"We have shifted our philosophy away from traditional hot-sites to real-time dual-processing operation centers," he said.

That way, Wescom Credit Union can "support load-balanced delivery of services to all delivery channels and ensure seamless operations and online service in the event either site has a failure," he said.

The Paperless Dream

Many credit unions hope to hone their imaging and check capture systems, in turn enhancing workflow and cutting the costs linked to processing paper.

Document images are critical for disaster recovery and free up physical storage space, said Janne Zuckerman, manager at the $20-million Birmingham Post Office CU in Alabama.

"Paperless is something we've worked on for 2005 that hasn't taken off as well as it should," explained Ray Ward, CEO at Kent County CU in Grand Rapids, Mich. "We are confident that in 2006 paperless will be the norm for us."

Virtual loan and account documentation will take precedence at both the $32-million Kent County Credit Union and the $60-million Park View FCU of Harrisonburg, Va.

Optical imaging improvements will simplify scanning and proffer Check 21 benefits, according to iQ, Wescom and Denali Alaskan Federal CUs.

"We'd like to have our staff scan checks at the point of presentment," said iQ's Morrell. "Currently, checks are scanned later in the day, and loan documentation is shipped and scanned."

The $341-million Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union will save more than $6,000 per month from implementing check imaging technologies, said John Layton, assistant vice president, Payment Systems at the Anchorage, Alaska-based CU.

Going With the Flow

A paperless credit union is better poised to improve workflow-and thus increase staff productivity, according to Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union and Los Angeles Firemen's Credit Union.

"We have a vision of 'end-to-end' automation for our business processes," explained George Kings, vice president, Information Services at $720-million LA Firemen's CU in Pasadena, Calif.

"We have been working hard to streamline processes using electronic forms and workflow," he continued. "The vision is to make available e-forms to staff and members for submitting their requests, then capture the data, authenticate identities, automatically route information to appropriate parties for authorization and ultimately, update the appropriate back-end system."

And Don't Forget About ...

"Online applications will remain hot," predicted Vonda Burkhart, CFO at $52-million Employees Credit Union in Dallas. "The easier it is for membership to do business with us, the more attractive we are."

No argument from Craig Crismon, assistant vice president, IT, at Travis Credit Union in Vacaville, Calif. The $1.5-billion credit union will implement an online account opening and funding solution next year, he told The Credit Union Journal.


For more information on the credit unions in the story, above, visit:


Birmingham Post Office CU at

Denali Alaskan FCU at

Employees CU at

Kent County CU at

Los Angeles Firemens' CU at

New England FCU at

Park View FCU at

Pennsylvania State Employees CU at

Travis CU at

Wescom CU at

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