Posts Tagged lending

Smartphone Apps, Mobile Trends and Credit Unions

Posted by on Thursday, 31 May, 2012

Did you catch this infographic about smartphone app use on Mashable a couple of weeks ago? New research from Nielsen has revealed just how much app use has skyrocketed from 2011 to 2012. Among the findings:

  • The average number of apps per smartphone has increased from 32 to 41.
  • Time spent on apps vs. the Web has jumped from 73% to 81%.
  • The number of Android and iOS users has taken a huge leap, from 38 million to 84 million.

How do these findings affect the credit union industry? Some CU-specific research provides more insight into the increase in smartphone app and mobile use and the implications this has for credit unions.

According to the “Measuring Social Media Success in Credit Unions” report from the Filene Research Institute:

  • Overall, 15.5% of credit unions report that they have developed a smartphone app.
  • About 21.3% of credit unions that use social media use smartphone apps.
  • App use has increased throughout the year, with 13.9% of all credit unions developing apps.

And from CUNA’s 2012-2013 Credit Union Environmental Scan (E-Scan) Report:

  • More consumers will use mobile devices to obtain loans, particularly younger members. The average age of a credit union member is 47, but the average age of users of CUNA Mutual’s Smartphone Loan technology is 29. In addition, completion rates for CUNA Mutual’s mobile loan application are more than 50%, compared to 40% to 50% for all Internet loan applications.
  • In a survey of 450 credit union CEOs and senior executives, 48% listed mobile banking as one of their top tech projects for 2012. In addition, 39% prioritized mobile payments.
  • While mobile payment transactions already total $240 billion annually, the market is expected to double or triple in the next five years, according to Juniper Research. By 2013, one in five cellphones worldwide will use near field communication (NFC) technology; by 2014, Google estimates that 50% of cellphones will use NFC technology.

It’s clear that mobile technology is booming, and an increasing number of credit unions are diving into the world of smartphone applications, mobile lending and mobile payments. Is your credit union developing new mobile technology or experiencing success with mobile tools? Let us know in the comments!

CUNA Announces the 2012 CUNA Business Lending Certification Institutes in Madison, WI

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 February, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (February 14, 2012) –Registration and school information is now available for the upcoming CUNA Business Lending Certification Institutes, July 16-20, 2012 in Madison, WI.  For more information and to register, visit

The CUNA Business Lending Certification Institutes is designed to provide a practical education on business lending and, via expert-led sessions, address real-life business scenarios. Presented in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business, Executive Education, Small Business Development Center, the CUNA Business Lending Certification Institutes are offered in three parts:

  1. Fundamentals
    Provides a solid foundation for business awareness and develops an understanding of the components involved in business lending services.
  2. Credit Analysis
    Addresses the challenges business members face in making debt service payments and meeting other financial responsibilities.
  3. Advanced Credit Analysis
    Provides hands-on experience with credit analysis.

“This program offers training and resources to help credit unions achieve a strong and sustainable member business lending program. Not only does it help them grow their member base, but it strengthens their presence in the community,” said Courtney Cantwell, Manager of Instructional Design at CUNA.

For more information about the CUNA Business Lending Certification Institutes and to register, visit

Undergrads Want Financial Education – What’s Your Credit Union Waiting For?

Posted by on Monday, 30 August, 2010

Some of the funniest commercials have aired during back-to-school season, like this one from Office Max (my favorite part is the lollipop switched for a magnifying glass).

But while many students roll their eyes at these commercials, others are scratching their heads wondering how the final set of CARD Act rules–which went into effect on August 22nd–will affect their credit accounts.

It’s my opinion that this is a perfect opportunity for credit unions to reach young adults and help them with financial education.  Why?

  1. The CARD Act is arguably the most important financial change to impact this demographic.
  2. Young adults WANT to learn how to better manage their money. According to a recent study by Sallie Mae, 84% of undergraduates said they needed more financial education.
  3. Credit unions that use financial education to guide young adults through these confusing times will gain their loyalty in return.

It’s that second point that’s most interesting… the average undergraduate senior leaves college with $4,100 in credit card debt AND wishes they had known more about managing credit and their finances. That’s where credit unions can make an impact with this demographic; by providing the desired financial education using relevant communication channels.

This is the main reason I’m psyched about my role here at CUNA. I get to help credit unions provide valuable financial information to my demographic using relevant methods such as the Web and in-person seminars.

We all know using a credit card isn’t difficult. It’s HOW to use a credit card that gets tricky. And that’s what I wanted to convey to folks my age with the video I produced for our new Seminar In A Box aimed at those starting out in life.  (Credit 101: Do You Pass the Test will be released this fall.)

Jeremy was awesome, and very candid. I wanted him to tell his story and offer advice based on his experience with credit. Hearing that message and discussing the situation with peers goes a long way and I think it amplifies the rest of the information presented throughout the seminar.

Check out this shortened version of the video…

Jeremy shares more compelling stories in the longer version that’s sure to resonate with the intended audience… like the story about his roommate’s use of credit, his episode with collections, how his credit problems affected his college career, and some advice based on his experiences.

Now it’s your turn… am I off base? Do you think young adults are a lost cause for credit unions? Are there better ways to reach them and gain their loyalty? I have lots to say about this subject–too much for one post–so let’s keep this conversation going!

Reflections of a CUNA Management School Graduate

Posted by on Friday, 25 June, 2010

CUNA Management School Class of 2008

After spending almost three years working at CUNA and marketing CUNA Management School, I was asked to go through the program as an attendee in 2006.  I remember arriving on a hot, steamy July Sunday to gather my materials and check in to my dorm room.  That wasn’t a typo, I stayed in a dorm room for two weeks, and actually enjoyed it.  Unlike my college days at the same UW-Madison, this school offered a completely different experience.

After attending the evening mixer, I began to notice quickly the diversity amongst the group.  Though we were all from the credit union movement, there were CEOs, marketers, branch managers, lending officers, business development managers, compliance officers and many others.  Plus, there were veterans of the movement, new hires, young parents, grandparents, and even one woman who was pregnant.  All in different stages of our careers and lives, we embarked on this experience to…? That was the question I wanted to answer.  After all, I promote this program to credit union professionals each year.  What were they hoping to gain or learn during these two weeks, and what would bring them back for the following two summers?

Needless to say, I certainly got an education at CUNA Management School.  Not only was I educated about what people gained and learned at the program, I experienced it.

I learned about and experienced idea sharing.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I sat next to 3 other marketers during my first day of class, and sat next to the same 3 my last day.  We loved learning from each other, and discussing the concepts presented in class as they related to marketing.

I learned about and experienced leadership and teamwork.  Sure, at first I thought it was hokey to have a class motto and chant.  But sure enough, after serving as our class treasurer, fundraising for the scholarship fund, assisting with the welcome committee and planning our class celebration, I felt the credit union philosophy come alive along with a camaraderie that continued long after the day we headed home.

I learned about and experienced credit unions.  I knew business concepts before I attended CUNA Management School.  In fact, many of my class members already had masters in business.  However, we learned about the credit union way of doing business as we sifted through ALM, ratios, human resources, marketing, innovation and crisis management.  Not just how to do it, but how a credit union should do it.

As the day approaches that a whole new CUNA Management School class begins, I remember my last day of the program.  I was the pregnant woman (with only two weeks until my due date, now that’s dedication) and others were now CEOs and COOs. We all took something a little different away from the program, yet we were all taking away something just the same: We learned about and experienced people helping people.

>Layaway Loans?

Posted by on Tuesday, 25 November, 2008

>I was delighted to read recently that layaway plans at retailers are making a comeback:

Layaway grew out of the Great Depression, where consumers could set aside goods they wanted and make regular installments until the debt was paid and they got to take the goods home.

The concept got shoved to the back of the storeroom in the 1980s, as easy credit begot a get-it-now, pay-later consumer culture. In recent years, retailers have put gift cards and their own profitable credit card rewards programs at center stage, turning layaway into an expensive, space-hogging, antiquated service.

> Read the full article here.

Layaway is good – unlike credit cards, you are working forward financially towards a goal instead of backwards. There is also less temptation to buy something now and think about how you are going to pay for it later. For young adults, this could be a whole new paradigm.

One thing that really excited me in the article was this new online development:

More than 1,200 merchants have turned to eLayaway, including Brookstone, Gap, Dell, HP, Apple Store and Bass Pro Shops. Two as-yet unnamed big-box retailers will become part of eLayaway’s virtual mall “very soon,” said Michael Bilello, senior vice-president of business development of the Tallahassee, Fla.-based technology company.

Like traditional in-store layaways — which have fees and cancellation penalties — customers of eLayaway pay a 1.9 percent transaction charge. Shoppers can stretch payments for three months to a year. Payments are automatically withdrawn electronically, and once the item is paid off, it’s shipped to the customer’s home.

If you check out the eLayaway site, they have a pretty attractive line on the homepage – “Debt-free credit building at its best!” And if you click around, you’ll see pretty much anything and everything.

What does this mean for credit unions? Consider a “layaway loan” to members - basically a loan in reverse. For loans for relatively small sums of cash, this could be a way to curb rising debt and boost responsible money management.

Out of curiousity, I did a quick Google Search for “layaway loan” and naturally there are already a few credit unions doing something similar (no banks…):

Think about it – in these economic times, this is another way for credit unions to leverage their difference by offering something….different.

>My Auto Loan Experience – Great Wisconsin Credit Union Rocks!

Posted by on Tuesday, 29 July, 2008

>Last Saturday, the Morris household finally relented and bought a second car. We thought we could live on one car forever, but my oldest daughter is starting kindergarten in the fall (!) and her school happens to be in the opposite direction of CUNA.

I am not a car guy. I know how to take care of one, but that’s about it. I don’t salivate at auto shows or sports cars. The only car that I’d get excited about is the Batmobile, which says a lot.

Anyway, since I don’t change cars that often, I’m completely unfamiliar with the auto loan process (I don’t have thousands of dollars of cash on hand, so I need a loan). Where to start?

I called my credit union, Great Wisconsin Credit Union, and explained my situation. A Financial Services Representative (FSR or MSR in the biz) spent 30-45 minutes on the phone with me explaining everything and answered all of my inane questions. She then sent me a loan pre-approval letter within days to flash the dealerships and also explained how to buy from a private seller too.

I was all set. Now I just needed to find a car.

After a month of checking out cars in and around Madison, I found a wonderful Toyota Camry on Craigslist (a very special nod goes to which proved to be essential in the search and evaluation of my new car). This was on a Friday night and I knew the car was going to sell quickly. The next morning, I rushed my two daughters into the nearest Great Wisconsin branch where they ran around the lobby (open from 9-12) while I explained my situation – we needed to wrap up the sale by noon. My kids were in rare form (they are 2 and 5), but staff there gave them each a bag of animal crackers which gave them something to do while I planned a closing strategy with the FSR.

There were some logistical snags because I didn’t have a copy of the title, but the credit union worked with me anyway and were able to set up a meeting in an hour with all of the paperwork ready for both my wife and I to sign along with the car seller. We met back up, signed the paperwork, gave him the check and voila! I had a car.

But here is the best part – the credit union has a partnership with the Wisconsin Dept. of Motor Vehicles, which meant that I left the credit union with license plates and registration! I was dreading taking a day off of work and standing in line at the local DMV to get all of that done, but someone in the credit union was smart enough at some point to establish that connection and make members’ lives easier. Icing on the cake.

Thank you Great Wisconsin Credit Union for making my auto loan easy and satisfying. I talk a lot about the credit union difference, but it’s always nice to experience it.

>I’m easy … kind of

Posted by on Monday, 12 November, 2007

>I’m 28, and, despite the fact that I ogle the Audi R8 in my spare time, I don’t have the money for it. When I shop for a car, I want just two things: 1) a car; 2) a good deal on the car.

To me, a “good deal” puts the best price, the best rate and as few fees as possible in one package. Good credit? Check. Access to pricing info online? Check. The first inkling about what fees a dealer and financer will slip out of my pocket on any given day? Not check.

Now, I can get around that. I can bargain with the best of them. I can demand to see the fee list and bust out the line-item veto. If I really had to, I would. But let’s be honest: I just want the car.

Enter Easy Wheels. If I’m a member of Miami University Community FCU, I simply call up the Easy Wheels guy at the credit union. I tell him what I’m looking for, new or used, and he’ll get it. Not only that, but he’ll get it at a good price because he:

  • knows the market,
  • knows the dealers,
  • understands why the 2001 Civic EX with sports package should cost about $700 less at resale than the 2002, and
  • has no financial incentive for making me pay more money.

And it’s free! The credit union pays the Easy Wheels guy a flat fee for each deal, and I get my car with no dickering, no arcane fees and no need to tell every sales guy on the lot that “I’m just looking today.” The Easy Wheels guy will even drive it to my house.

This even turns the tables on that long-standing indirect member problem. You know, a member “joins” through the dealership and you receive a check, not a relationship, for the duration of the loan. With a service like Easy Wheels and the right word-of-mouth, credit unions can make themselves the starting point for car buying, not just a faceless back-end financer. MUCFCU gets the financing (though, incredibly, they’ve allowed members to finance elsewhere before), the Easy Wheels guy gets his fee and I get a great deal.

Now, Miami University Community FCU is not the first one to do something like this, but kudos to CEO Rick Parker for making membership demonstrably valuable (and marketing it well). If I lived in Oxford, Ohio, I’d have joined his credit union a long time ago.

Ben Rogers is Driver of the CU Tomorrow project at the Filene Research Institute.