Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Lehman CU’

Credit Unions being a Cooperative

July 9, 2010

Recently, the “dot-coop” (or .coop) extension topic was brought up on EverythingCU.com. This question was about whether or not it’s a good idea for credit unions to use this domain extension to signal that they are part of the broader cooperative movement.

This leads to the question: does being a part of the broader cooperative movement still mean anything in today’s credit union world? The reason I like to raise this question is that I had been working with this movement for about eight years before I had ever heard of the Seven Cooperative Principles. I knew that credit unions were member-owned, members had equal voting power, and that they were run as not-for-profit financial institutions. But I didn’t put two and two together to realize that all of these things are principles of the larger Cooperative movement.

So I recently voiced this question in response to the .coop issue, and received a wonderful response from my friend Gene Blishen. Gene is an amazing guy; he walks the talk. He’s the CEO of a successful, small credit union in British Columbia, where he remains true to credit union and cooperative principles while running a productive operation, one which has done some excellent technological innovation based on improving service to the members.

For many credit unions, in the U.S. especially, being a Cooperative has little or no meaning. They are simply trying to be the best financial organization possible, while running under the not-for-profit banner. It’s not that these credit union professionals care any less about their members. They still want to do the best they can for them, and make their lives better. It’s just that they don’t see any significant purpose in the Cooperative movement, or perhaps don’t see how it fits in their workplace. And that’s fine.

Here is Gene’s response on the matter, also posted on his Tinfoiling blog:

I think there is an elephant in the room and it never gets invited to leave.

IF you read the 7 Co-operative principle on which most CUs were founded years ago they were important in the structure and culture of the credit unions. As the financial industry has advanced somehow those principles have been forgotten, neglected or just unknown.

If one makes a decision about anything there are some fundamentals that act when arriving at that decision. Without the knowledge of these principles then the decision gets hijacked by being made outside those principles. If we bring to focus these absolutes that are a given i.e. we need to make money, we need to compete and neglect to discuss and bring forward how we incorporate these values (principles) in our CUs we do an incredible disservice.

Of course we need to make money, I don’t think that is a principle that needed discussion when CUs started. Of course we need to compete, they started because they could compete. But what about democratic owner control? What does that mean in todays CU? Or the education principle? I think we don’t want to discuss those. Why? To be honest because we have failed to bring these to the important level they need to be, we have been too busy making sure we make money and are moving forward in the marketplace.

I look at a CU like a car. You get it into shape. You tune it up. You keep it working well. But is that all? No you then decide where you want to go with it. What destinations are available and when will you get there. You always pay attention to the operation of the vehicle otherwise you won’t get there. Just remember you have seven places to arrive at and the journey can be exciting and very interesting. Remember we do have GPS to get us where we are going these days! 🙂

Here is a related blog post I wrote on the 6th principle of Cooperatives, which is that Cooperatives cooperate with each other: Zucchinis and Credit Unions: Not strange bedfellows

Bring Your Binoculars

March 17, 2010

I’m excited to be delivering an advanced social media workshop webinar tomorrow, Bring Your Binoculars, an EverythingCU.com 301 Workshop. I’ll be going beyond Twitter and Facebook 101 to explain how to link your social media efforts together to increase their impact, how to monitor what people are saying about you, and how to promote your events.

I’ll be using several CUs in the examples you can follow along with: Mt. Lehman CU in BC, Fairwinds CU in Orlando FL, and Public Service CU in Michigan. We’re spanning North America to bring you the info you need!

Ooops, Mt. Lehman CU did it again

March 17, 2010

Mt. Lehman CU continues its amazing path of innovation in the credit union movement. Mt. Lehman was the first credit union to offer text message alerts five years ago, and now they have created their own iPhone app for banking, called MobileWeb. Props to Gene Blishen and the team of foward-thinking CU professionals at Mt. Lehman! You’ve done it again!

One of the key takeaways here is that Mt. Lehman CU is innovative BECAUSE of their small size (less than 3,000 members and less than 12 employees), not in spite of their small size. That, and the fact that they have excellent brains. Oh yeah, and they live in one of the more beautiful parts of the world, British Columbia, home of the recent 2010 Winter Olympics!

BTW, I’ll be using Mt. Lehman’s latest innovation in an example of how to spread the word using social media techniques in the workshop webinar I’m delivering tomorrow: Bring Your Binoculars

Gene Blishen: Mobile banking

October 2, 2008

Gene Blishen & coGene Blishen at the Partnership Symposium on Mobile Banking. Note: Gene’s small Mt. Lehman CU is doing amazing things in the mobile banking arena that billion dollar CUs don’t find feasible.

[Brent Dixon recorded this session on video here.]

Small CU in Vancouver area (3000 members), where 62% of all BC CU System assets are within a 15 minute drive.

Saw the internet would kill faxing in 1994.

Decided to integrate technology in house.

MemberNote came out of staff meeting. Text message sent when member uses card.

MemberNote 2: more variables needed for alerts. Turn on/off, balance included. Builds more based on what members say to front line.

Product is self-managed.

The difference between Push and Pull.

[Condition] {poll} +send alert message+ (a batch process)

Push operates differently: Occurs real time. Emergency alerts can be set up. Extensive logs. Housed at CU. Can tweak it internally based on member feedback.

1.) Transaction occurs: 2. Compared to the variables established by member about notification rules: 3. Alert is sent.

TextUs is second product. Built by third-party, along with 2nd largest CU in Alberta.
Can send a query (BAL or ACT) to short code then sends you a message back.

Released iPhone interface on same day iPhone was released in Canada. Same as TextUs, but on the iPhone.

History of checking account is available on iPhone.

Mobile banking is very broad. too new to have complete definition.

Can make transfers via phone, but not via mobile device yet. Believes it is a huge area for development.

Why is it popular?
Member note: Set and forget

TextUs- seeking information at various times for various reasons.

48% of members have POS/ATM card: 1343 members (must have to have MemberNote)

63% of cardbase use MemberNote

60% are active users (alerts within 90 days)

68% have more than 5 transactions per month

Biggest group using MemberNote: 29% 41-55; next is 28% 25-40; 23% are 56+!!!!! Only 11% are 18-24

Gene asks his members in the 56 years old and older group, “Why are you using this?” The answer: “I hardly used piece of plastic, but MemberNote tells us that the transaction is complete.” They feel secure about that!

Working on Version 3 now: Quantum leap in variables that you can receive alerts on. Will release Feb 2009. Still the only CU using Pull technology.

What does mobile banking do?
Another method to touch your members via SMS.
Gives the CU a unique position in marketplace.
Distribute communications.
Combats card fraud.
Makes you aware of current market conditions and trends.

Use it prudently and with common sense.

Create an engaged member. Transact with the engaged member. Educated your members about your products and services.

Next?
Web-based ATMs.
Chip cards and use of the chips “real estate”
Smart phones that allow specific programs, i.e. ATM locator.

Innovation:
bought all staff an iPhone when they came out.
comes from establishing the right culture at the CU. Not one individual, is collaborative.
Failure creates successes.
iSmart: Everything that his core processor isn’t

Q&A with the Shevlinator:
Q: Alerts: more than just a transaction? Deeper meaning?
A: Natural extension of a phone call follow up. Technology allowing them to do what would happen manually. Member OWNS CU. Do they feel that they own it still? This helps make them feel like they own it and influence what is going on there. They know that no one else has this.

Q: Surveys to determine what they want?
A: They have conversations with the member. They ask them. What do you think? Staff are aware that this is a vital area. What do you want with MemberNote? Biggest thing? Payday. secondary: alimony payment goes through.

Q: ROI projections?
A: The board requires a certain amount of money to be made. Gene and staff does the rest. If they can’t make it, will sell it back to members rather than merge.

Q: Security and privacy concerns? This seems to be the opposite.
A: Members become evangelists for you. MEMBERS GET ALERT BEFORE THEY GET RECEIPT. They are proud of this, of their CU.

Q: Location based services?
A: Sent his devs to SF. With iPhone, location is a given.