Trendy Tablets Aren't The Key In The Field, Says One CU

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-You don't need a sexy iPad to score big sales in the field, according to a $130-million credit union here that signs up most of its members by going out into the world with tried-and-true Dell laptops.

The technology that makes the difference is an online account opening and funding solution, said Tameka Brown, director, HR and administration, NARFE Premier FCU.

The 10,000-member CU began using AccountCreate in 2008 to allow potential members across the country to sign up online but also to make it easy for staff to enroll members in the field and at branches, said Brown. AccountCreate is provided by Fiserv, Inc.

When NARFE Premier first began using AccountCreate, the number of accounts opened per month jumped by an average of more than 200%, she said. Last year, it opened more than 100 new accounts every month. Less than one-third of those new accounts were opened at a branch; the remainder were captured by representatives sitting face-to-face with people in the field, or from members applying independently online.

With a national FOM but only two physical branches, NARFE Premier figures that the best way to attract or retain membership is to advertise and hit the road with laptops, Brown said. "We're always out in the field enrolling new members."

Previously, NARFE Premier asked applicants in the field to fill out account documents in hard copy, Brown said. The CU then hauled the paper back to the branch and manually entered application data into the core processor.

Saving paper is one of the ways credit unions can save money with AccountCreate. The average cost to open an account using the solution is between $12 and $22, according to Scott Bowen, manager, business development, bank and credit union solutions with Fiserv. That's well below what third-party research reports as the national average cost of between $50 to $65, said Bowen.

The entire account opening process, including funding, takes about 10 minutes, faster than the 30 to 40 minute average for traditional branch-based account opening, he added.

"The on-site membership drives are wonderful," Brown continued. "AccountCreate makes it easy for members and staff because it's self-explanatory. It takes about 10 minutes to get the member enrolled, including scanning in a driver's license and feeding the application through our core processor to assign a member number. The system also checks the member against OFAC and ChexSystems and pulls credit reports. We then print the app, and the member signs it."

People who submit applications via NARFE Premier's website have to wait a little longer, as documents are double-checked by staff, she said. "Our new account analyst may be reviewing three or four applications at a time. Those accounts are usually opened within 24 hours."

Online members follow-up by signing documents and providing a copy of their driver's license within 30 days. About 85% of all applications started result in a funded account, said Brown.

AccountCreate enables instant account opening and funding for online applications, "but most credit unions prefer to review the applications from an auditing and compliance standpoint," before approving the account, Bowen explained.

AccountCreate checks against a set of five business criteria set by the CU to determine additional products for cross-sales, said Bowen. The system then gives the member the option to choose additional products.

This year, the solution will allow online members to scan their driver's license and submit it as a file along with the account application, he said.

Members can fund accounts via ACH, credit, debit, check or cash, said Bowen. Fiserv foots the bill for the ACH transaction, but credit and debit carry fees.

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