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Number of CUs Offering Free Checking Up 9%

LAKE BLUFF, Ill.-From July 2010 to February 2011, credit unions offering free checking increased by 9%, according to data released last week by Mike Moebs, economist and CEO at Moebs $ervices. The data supports a forecast shared by Moebs in Credit Union Journal earlier this year (Jan. 3) that addressed how credit unions can take a significant share of the checking market as big banks eliminate free checking. Moebs predicted by the end of 2011, community banks and credit unions will have 65% of the checking account market. Currently about half of Wall Street banks are offering free checking, a decline of 13.6%, noted Moebs.


Freddie Raises Minimum For Equity In Borrwers' Homes

WASHINGTON-Freddie Mac announced last week that beginning June 1 most borrowers will need at least 5% equity in the home for their loans to be eligible for sale to Freddie. Freddie currently accepts loans with as little as 3% down.

Although such purchases "have been minimal in recent years," Freddie Mac said in a memo to lenders, "the performance of these mortgages has been unacceptable." Freddie Mac spokesperson Brad German told American Banker, an affiliate of Credit Union Journal, that in 2010 mortgages with down-payments of 10% or less made up just 3% of Freddie's purchases, down from a peak of 11% of its purchases in 2007.

The lone exception to the new guidelines, Freddie said, will be loans refinanced through the government's Home Affordable Refinance Program, which is designed for borrowers who owe more than their properties are worth.

Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, are both operating under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.


FSCC, CU Wireless Add Mobile App

ONTARIO, Calif.-Financial Service Centers Cooperative and CU Wireless, a CUSO owned by MaPS CU in Oregon, have launched a service offering mobile text banking capability to members of all credit unions affiliated with the shared branching network.

The service, called MyCUAnywhere, uses secure, SMS/text banking technology to access account information, including balances, transaction history, loan status and funds transfer.

Members of CU Service Centers credit unions can register for the service by visiting www.cuswirl.com/anywhere. Credit unions can learn more about the service and how to promote it to their membership by visiting www.fscc.com/my-cu-anywhere.


Fiserv Acquires Three Companies

BROOKFIELD, Wis.-Fiserv closed on three acquisitions last week, the last of which was Maverick Network Solutions, a Delaware-based provider of advanced prepaid, reward and incentive card programs.

Fiserv will offer prepaid processing, turn-key program management, and support of general purpose reloadable and payroll cards for financial institutions and corporations.

The company said the next generation of prepaid cards allows Fiserv to add the convenience of reloadable, brandable cards to its payment networks, including CheckFreeRXP and CheckFreePay, ACCEL/Exchange, and ZashPay.

Earlier in the week, Fiserv announced deals to acquire Atlanta-based mobile services provider M-Com and Credit Union On-Line, a Waltham, Mass., CUSO that that runs an outsourced version of an account-processing solution from Fiserv.


Ex-Teller Charged In Theft

PITTSBURGH-A former head teller at West-Aircomm FCU was indicted last week on charges of stealing $400,000.

Shirley Howl, 55, is accused of taking money from three ATMs in the credit union's Beaver branch between August 2007 and November 2009. She then made ledger entries before the machines were audited to make it appear the money had been transferred to the vault, and then made additional entries in an attempt to cover her tracks, the indictment said.


The 'U-30 Bandit" Gets 20 Years

BOSTON-A Massachusetts man known as the "U-30 Bandit" for eight robberies he claimed were committed in less than 30 seconds was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In November Dimitri Long pleaded guilty to robberies at Ukrainian CU in Dedham in May 2009, Sharon CU in June 2009 and six other institutions within a two-month period in the Boston suburbs of Wellesley, Needham, Newton, Dedham and Sharon.

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