With the credit union movement constantly changing, transformation always generates great opportunities. CO-OP’s annual THINK Prize exemplifies that opportunity, as this contest challenges individuals to help architect the future of the credit union movement.  In its second year, the 2012 CO-OP THINK Prize is designed to initiate and reward such forward thinking and the individuals competing hold the keys to shaping what lies ahead for this industry.

Shared branching vendor, Credit Union Centers, a progressive and forward-thinking company that is the regional representative for Credit Union Service Corporation and the CO-OP Shared Branching network, has a vast client base that shares the same philosophy. In fact, it had two credit union clients that were semi-finalists in this year’s THINK Prize Contest:

Heartland Credit Union

“It’s exciting to receive recognition for an idea that could benefit not only Heartland Credit Union, but other credit unions as well,” admits Sanert, who’s credit union has participated in Credit Union Centers’ shared branch network since 2008 as an Issuer and Acquirer. “It’s an honor to be selected as a semi-finalist in this contest because there aren’t many opportunities for employees to submit ideas that can have an impact on the entire credit union industry.”

Sanert’s idea was for CO-OP to implement a mobile gift card, which would allow members to purchase gift cards on their smart phones.  Gift cards could then be automatically sent to the recipient via email.

In November 2011, Sanert submitted a five-page business plan that expanded upon her initial mobile gift card suggestion. The business plan included a business objective, the strategies and steps required to implement her idea, and a cost estimate of the project.

“I’m proud to work for a credit union that strives to provide the most up to date technology to our members,” she adds.

When developing an idea for the THINK’12 Prize, Sanert was inspired by the innovative products and services her credit union strives to offer its members. “Shared branching’s NGN Platform is a great example of how technology has evolved to meet the changing needs of today’s members,” she says.

Sanert adds that shared branching has provided Heartland’s members with the ability to utilize more than 4,400 nationwide branch locations, which has enabled the credit union to compete against banks in terms of access and convenience for its members.

Great Lakes Credit Union
“Being selected as a THINK ’12 semi-finalist is a great indicator of our organization’s creativity, and out-of-the box thinking,” says Moscatelli, who’s credit union also joined the Credit Union Centers network as both an Issuer and Acquirer in 2008. “Great Lakes Credit Union aims at being a leader in product development and industry standard, which is evident by our two time selection as a THINK ’12 semi-finalist contestant. Personally, it serves as a constant reminder of the immense opportunity for growth and vision that I can bring to the credit union movement.”

Acccording to Moscatelli, the process is both challenging and exciting as competitors start to realize the potential of their ideas in the lives of real members. It can easily become an overwhelming process, but through the help and support of his co-workers, he was able to clearly define details and plans for implementation.

Moscatelli’s idea consisted of an online user interface that would be a merger between social media and online banking. This new interface dubbed “Command Center” would allow users to establish family and friend “links” giving them the capability to transfer funds to and from friends, family, and bill providers easily and quickly. Through a new technology called “drag and drop” users could select an amount to transfer, enter a personalized pin, then drag and drop selected funds to any user or bill provider they deem appropriate.

Shared branching was also a major influence over the decision making process in Moscatelli’s concept. He wanted to make his idea as versatile and global as possible to get members from other credit unions to use it.

“One of the biggest influences was shared branching because of its great reputation for efficient and convenient member services,” he says. “What we thought was, if credit unions can access accounts though their network via shared branching, why couldn’t we do the same with an online banking platform? That was a thought we placed on our drawing board for quite some time.”

Overall, Moscatelli believes shared branching has been an invaluable service provided to Great Lakes members. Whether the credit union’s members like to travel, commute, or explore, shared branching fills its branch and ATM location gaps. “Our members like hearing about our participation in this service, and use it often,” he adds.

“Being selected as a semi-finalist in the THINK contest really helps to drive the creative engine at Great Lakes,” he explains. “It excites and motivates others to start applying their experiences and perspectives into an idea that offers creative change to the credit union movement.”

Moscatelli adds that Great Lakes strives to infuse that passion into its daily member service dedication. “Our members should be confident that as a credit union concerned with member financial service, we are always thinking of new products, services, and relationships to better the member experience,” he says.