Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union Selects Co-op Solutions as Key Partner in Payments Enhancements Strategy
To meet changing member demands and accelerate the growth of its payments portfolio, Katy, Texas-based Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union (BVSCU) has established a new partnership with Co-op Solutions. The credit union payments fintech will provide BVSCU access to its Co-op Debit and Full-Service Credit processing solutions, as well as the Co-op ATM network.
“BVSCU members are like family, so it was important for us to choose a partner that would treat our members with the same care and compassion as the BVSCU team,” said Yvonne Kershner, BVSCU President/CEO. “Co-op understands the credit union culture and will provide the fast and friendly service our members are accustomed to. On top of Co-op’s clear respect for the CU-member relationship, they also have unparalleled expertise in fintech and payments tech integration, which we need to enhance our member experience. We anticipate our card conversion to go smoothly because it will operate from a jointly held member-first mindset.”
The 62,000-member BVSCU (https://www.bvscu.org/) started as an educators’ credit union and provides services to many communities around several of the local school districts. According to Kershner, BVSCU members will benefit from the Co-op-BVSCU partnership by way of several enhancements to their overall payments experience, including a wider ATM network, an enhanced rewards program and a people-centric contact center.
“This is a credit union rooted in education, which feeds values like trust and transparency,” said Matt Kardell, Chief Revenue Officer for Co-op. “Today, trust means something quite different than it did in the past, with convenience topping tenure in the minds of financial consumers. Co-op has studied this digital-era phenomenon and is working with credit unions to position them for success within it. We are honored to include BVSCU among those cooperatives deploying innovative payments strategies to earn this new kind of member trust.”
Co-op Full-Service Credit is a fully hosted and managed payments program that’s customized to credit union needs and optimized for operational simplicity. Co-op Debit includes the most comprehensive array of member loyalty, security and efficiency benefits available to credit unions. The Co-op ATM network provides fee-free access to accounts for members of participating credit unions nationwide.
For more information on the Co-op ecosystem of financial technology products and services visit www.co-opfs.org/Solutions.
Apiture, a leading provider of digital banking solutions, today announced that State Employees Credit Union ("State ECU"), a 65-year-old institution serving members throughout New Mexico, has selected the Apiture Digital Banking Platform to deliver an enhanced online and mobile banking experience to its members.
The modernization effort is part of State ECU's ongoing mission to empower its members by providing exceptional financial service. The credit union will leverage Apiture's Consumer Banking and Business Banking solutions to deliver in-demand features through a seamless, intuitive online interface and mobile app. The credit union will also use the Apiture Data Intelligence solution to drive digital engagement and provide tailored offers to consumers and businesses online. State ECU collaborated with Samaha & Associates to find the best technology partner, ultimately picking Apiture.
"At State ECU, we are committed to evolving through technology that improves the financial lives of our members," said Ed Christians, CIO at State ECU. "Apiture's industry-leading digital banking solutions, along with its commitment to service and support, give us confidence that our partnership will enable us to better support the financial success of a growing number of consumers and businesses throughout New Mexico."
"By providing a modern, fully featured consumer and business banking experience, State ECU is poised to deepen member engagement and drive significant growth," said Apiture CEO Chris Babcock. "We are thrilled to welcome State ECU to the Apiture family."
Engage fi, a prominent financial services consulting firm, is thrilled to announce the promotion of Andres Pasantes to President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). With over 25 years of industry experience in senior executive roles at Fiserv, FIS, and D+H, Pasantes is a strong advocate for the growth of community banks and credit unions and the significant value they bring to the communities they serve. Since joining Engage fi just last year, Pasantes has already made a transformative impact on the business.
"Andres has been an invaluable addition to Engage fi since day one," exclaimed Jennifer Addabbo, CEO and Co-Founder of Engage fi. "His wealth of experience, visionary thinking, and unwavering commitment have been instrumental in propelling our company's growth and laying the foundation for future expansion. I am thrilled to broaden his leadership as President and COO, with complete trust in his ability to guide us toward unparalleled achievements as we continue on this extraordinary journey."
Under Pasantes' visionary guidance, Engage fi has boldly expanded its range of essential services, including a new Project Management Office (PMO) for Conversion Services, Merger Readiness and Support, Telecom Assessments, and Contact Center Reviews. These innovative additions have empowered the company to proactively meet the evolving needs of clients in the dynamic landscape of financial technology.
One of the remarkable accomplishments under Pasantes' exceptional leadership is an outstanding 400% increase in core account processing evaluations and conversions. Engage fi has already successfully completed 220 projects this year for a wide range of solutions such as payments, core banking, digital experience, and insurance, resulting in substantial savings exceeding $250 million for clients. These achievements highlight Pasantes' unwavering commitment to delivering tangible value and measurable outcomes to Engage fi's customers.
Furthermore, Pasantes understands the significance of nurturing a diversified and talented team. His commitment to attracting and retaining top-tier industry professionals has yielded the integration of six seasoned leaders into the growing Engage fi team. Moreover, under his guidance, the company's workforce has flourished, experiencing an impressive growth of 27%, exemplifying Pasantes' remarkable ability to cultivate a supportive and engaging work environment.
In his role as President and COO, Pasantes will continue to drive the Engage fi mission of guiding financial institutions through strategic planning sessions and complex vendor assessments, pricing negotiations, and contract reviews. Leveraging a team of seasoned subject matter experts and harnessing the power of advanced technology and data, Engage fi remains steadfast in their commitment of empowering financial institutions with the precise guidance and expertise they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape.
“I am incredibly proud of the achievements we have accomplished at Engage fi in the past year," expressed Andres Pasantes. “I am constantly inspired by the collective dedication, innovation, and drive that defines our team. Our shared pursuit of excellence fuels our progress, and I am honored to lead such an exceptional group of individuals who are redefining what is possible and having such a positive impact on the industry."
Juniper Payments, a PSCU company and the largest cloud-based non-bank third-party provider of inter-bank transaction and reporting systems in the U.S., is among the first in the industry to complete testing and certification for the FedNowSM Service, the Federal Reserve’s new instant payment offering launching in July 2023. The service will enable financial institutions to offer 24x7x365 instant payments, allowing customers to send and receive money immediately.
“We are excited that early adopters of all sizes across the country are making strides in their operational readiness for live transactions through the system,” said Ken Montgomery, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston first vice president and FedNow Service program executive. “Completing certification is a key milestone for participating organizations to validate their ability to deliver instant payment services.”
To achieve certification, Juniper Payments, completed a comprehensive testing curriculum, including fulfilling a checklist of requirements to confirm ability to transmit and process ISO® 20022 messages, and attested that they are prepared to meet the requirements to successfully operate in a 24x7x365 instant payments environment.
“We are immensely proud to be certified as a pioneer on FedNow, which marks a significant leap forward in our mission to offer cutting-edge, seamless payment solutions,” said Jon Budd, CEO, Juniper Payments. “This certification affirms our continued pursuit of innovation and commitment to better serve financial institutions in the rapidly evolving digital payments landscape. We thank our dedicated team members at Juniper Payments and our colleagues at the Federal Reserve for their collaborative efforts throughout the certification process, and we look forward to helping our clients explore the new opportunities this platform will offer.”
TruWest® Credit Union recently launched its signature Bite of Reality financial education program for students in grades 8-12 as well as college students. The simulation is intended to provide kids and young adults with the opportunity to budget strategically and manage money in real world situations.
Through the program app, students are assigned a profile that comes with a job title, salary, family situation, debt level (if any) and monthly budget information. Participants are then prompted to begin evaluating and making choices for housing, tech, transportation, grocery, childcare, travel and entertainment based on their budget, salary and lifestyle. On site volunteers facilitate the process.
“Exposing students to budgeting and money management at a young age will have an invaluable impact on their financial future,” said the credit union’s CFO Mike Ward. “TruWest’s Bite of Reality simulation is a memorable and effective program for kids and young adults.”
Inevitably, some students will go over their budget and have the opportunity to visit the credit union in order to receive counsel on financial decisions and guidance to adjust spending to get back within budget. It is not always the participant with more discretionary income who comes in under budget. It is a fun exercise to see what habits are employed within the child’s experience, saving versus spending. Conscious spending is key.
For more information regarding TruWest Credit Union and the Bite of Reality youth financial education program, please visit truwest.org/bite-of-reality/.
CUES has selected Heather McKissick to serve as its next CEO after a nationwide search facilitated by DDJ Myers, the well-known executive search and leadership development firm.
McKissick is an International Credit Union Development Educator (I-CUDE) and a proven executive leader with world-class public speaking skills and demonstrated organizational development expertise. She most recently served as Executive Vice President of Community Impact, Marketing and Communication, for University Federal Credit Union (UFCU), the $4.6 billion cooperative headquartered in Austin, Texas.
“Throughout my career, I have witnessed the transformative power of leadership development. Now, as the CEO of CUES, I am eager to leverage my diverse background and experience to help credit unions thrive and succeed in a rapidly evolving landscape,” said McKissick. “I am grateful for the trust placed in me by the board of directors. I can’t wait to work collaboratively with the CUES team, our valued members, and our partners to shape a strategic vision that positions CUES as the go-to source for innovative leadership development for credit unions, driving growth and expanding impact.”
CUES’ mission is to empower credit union leaders of today and tomorrow to realize their potential, transforming their organizations, their communities, and the world. These goals are accomplished through a dedicated team that McKissick will now lead.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Heather as our next CEO! The board is confident that her passion for our industry and stakeholders, purpose-driven focus, and track record of fostering strong collaborative relationships will take CUES to its next level of success and expand the ways we benefit the industry as a whole,” said Kelly Marshall, CUES Board Chair & CEO of Summerland Credit Union.
In addition to spending nearly a decade serving UFCU, McKissick previously served as President and CEO of Leadership Austin and as Director of Organizational Development and Education for a $5.5 billion non-profit healthcare organization. She received her Master of Arts in English Language from The Claremont Graduate University and her Bachelor of Arts in English Writing and Rhetoric from St. Edwards University.
Tyfone Partners with Silicon Valley-Based Star One Credit Union to Implement New Instant Payment Solution, Now Certified For Federal Reserve’s FedNow Service
Digital banking innovator Tyfone, Inc. today announced its strategic partnership with Star One Credit Union to implement the credit union’s new instant payment solution, which has been certified for FedNowSM, the Federal Reserve’s new, highly anticipated instant payment offering launching in July 2023.
Tyfone partnered with Star One Credit Union to build the new platform-agnostic solution, which will seamlessly integrate to financial institutions’ core processing systems and enable connectivity to payment originators and digital banking providers through Tyfone’s open API’s. Through financial institutions participating in the FedNow Service, account holders can send and receive payments any time, any day, anywhere, and have full access to those funds immediately.
This latest Tyfone solution will allow financial institutions of all sizes to directly connect to the FedNow Service for credit transfer send and receive message sets, with additional message sets to be launched soon. Furthering this initiative, Star One has also completed its certification for the FedNow Service, making it one of the credit union industry’s first adopters, earning this designation after thorough testing and ensuring the ability to operate in an instant payments environment.
With over $10.2 billion in assets, Star One Credit Union is one of Silicon Valley's largest financial institutions and ranks 19th in total assets among all U.S. credit unions. By partnering on this effort, Star One and Tyfone worked together to create an instant payment offering that will not only serve Star One and its members, but will also be a payment originator and digital banking platform-agnostic solution designed from a financial institution’s unique perspective to ensure it meets the needs of financial institutions across the country.
“Together with Tyfone, we are advancing instant payments adoption in the United States and helping to fulfill the end-to-end instant payment ecosystem,” said Minal Gupta, VP of Remote Services of Star One Credit Union. “We look forward to working with Tyfone’s team to create a solution for financial institutions of all sizes, regardless of what payment providers or digital banking platform they use.”
“Today’s consumers and businesses not only want quick, simple and instant ways to facilitate payments, but they expect a unified, consistent user experience,” said Tyfone CEO Dr. Siva Narendra. “Our partnership with Star One Credit Union allows us to build a solution that aligns with financial institutions’ unique needs and ensures greater accessibility. Our goal is to help scale this service and unlock the tremendous potential instant payments offers financial institutions and account holders.”
Narendra went on to cite that nearly 90 percent of financial institutions, payments facilitators and other businesses are currently preparing to implement FedNow, according to a survey released during the Nacha Smarter Faster Payments conference in April. However, over half of respondents believe that the biggest challenge to faster payments adoption is limited availability of services and interoperability. Over 71 percent said it was “very important” for faster payments to achieve interoperability with other such systems, according to the results released.
The survey also outlined the biggest potential use cases for faster payments, with person-to-person payments cited the most at 49 percent, followed by payment disbursements at 46 percent, and bill pay at 45 percent. Also worth noting is that while 80 percent of respondents say they had implemented Zelle – ranking second only behind same-day ACH payments – it had low ratings, pointing to a need for better payment solutions that leverage FedNow.
At present, Tyfone's digital banking platform and platform-agnostic digital business solutions have been adopted by over 100 community financial institutions across the nation. Tyfone's technologies are available to nearly 10 million account holders providing efficient and seamless digital access. With the implementation of an instant payment solution, both as a standalone and as an integrated service, Tyfone fortifies its standing as a premier digital provider for community financial institutions. This strategic positioning is set to broaden the reach of instant payments to millions of Americans, further transforming the landscape of digital financial transactions.
Corelation recently announced that it is celebrating the significant milestone of signing over 200 credit unions to convert to the KeyStone core. Amongst the most recent signings are Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union ($3.97 billion assets; 266,373 members; Knoxville, TN), Credit Union of Denver ($1.13 billion assets; 69,088 members; Lakewood, CO), and Zing Credit Union ($448 million assets; 37,130 members; Denver, CO), who all signed during the closing reception of Corelation’s Client Conference aboard the historic USS Midway.
For all three credit unions, the decision to migrate to the KeyStone core system was primarily driven by the seamless integration capabilities of its open API, KeyBridge, and Corelation's renowned reputation for building strong relationships.
“KeyStone will enhance our staff’s experience with the core and in turn, enhance our members’ credit union experience. Their open API will improve each of our existing third-party vendor integrations and give us the flexibility to add more in the future as we grow,” said Pat Kelly, Vice President of Information Technology of Zing Credit Union. “We also love Corelation’s collaborative approach to client relationships which will allow us to build a great partnership.”
Much like Zing Credit Union, KeyStone’s ability to scale as their credit unions grow was key to Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union’s decision to select Corelation.
“We spent months reviewing core systems looking for a core processor that would grow with us in the future. We are very impressed with KeyStone’s system architecture and business continuity abilities,” said Pam Weston, Chief Technology Officer of Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union. “We heard nothing but positive feedback from Corelation’s clients and third-party vendors highlighted KeyStone as the most user-friendly core system to interact with. Corelation’s willingness to make enhancements to the system was very reassuring, and in the end, we decided KeyStone was the only choice for us.”
Through extensive core selection processes and due diligence, both Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union and Credit Union of Denver also arrived at the same conclusion: KeyStone.
“After a rigorous year-long evaluation process that involved numerous departments throughout the organization, we have chosen KeyStone as the ideal core solution to enhance our operational efficiency, streamline processes, and drive innovation,” shared Chris Wallace, President/CEO of Credit Union of Denver. “KeyStone stood out as the clear choice due to its comprehensive suite of features such as the KeyBridge open API architecture, easy access to our data, it's ‘More in the Core’ mission, and Corelation’s service-oriented company culture that is so critical in a credit union/vendor relationship. This strategic partnership marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to delivering exceptional financial services to our valued members, and we are confident that KeyStone will enable us to elevate our credit union's technological capabilities and deliver unparalleled member and employee experiences.”
This noteworthy milestone not only serves as a testament to the KeyStone core solution but also reinforces the trust and satisfaction their clients have in their partnership with Corelation.
“We are honored to welcome Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Credit Union of Denver, and Zing Credit Union to our Corelation family. As we surpass the 200th client milestone, our stellar team remains committed to delivering excellence and cultivating enduring partnerships with clients,” shared Corelation President Rob Landis. “We invite you to join us in raising a toast to the achievements we will accomplish together in the years to come!”
Senate Bill 3, which adds a requirement for high school students to complete one half-credit of higher education and career path skills and one half-credit of personal financial education in order to receive a high school diploma has passed both the Oregon Senate and House. The bill is on its way to Governor Tina Kotek’s desk for signature.
The bill, backed by Oregon’s Credit Unions, received strong bipartisan support. On June 20, the bill passed the Oregon Senate by a vote of 24-1 (with 5 absent) and passed the Oregon House June 21 on a vote of 42-7 (with 1 absent). Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner and Senate Republican leader Tim Knopp introduced the innovative life skills bill.
“We are grateful to Senators Wagner and Knopp for their leadership and dedication to prioritizing this important legislation that will help set high school students up for success,” said Pamela Leavitt, senior vice president of regional grassroots and political programs/legislative affairs for Oregon with GoWest Credit Union Association. “Financial education in our schools has been a priority for Oregon credit unions for almost two decades and now we are able to deliver a tangible solution for high school students.”
“Oregon schools must prepare our students to make major financial and career decisions. This bill will help set up young Oregonians for success,” said Senate President and bill co-sponsor Rob Wagner. “Whether students choose to continue their education or start a career, the skills they learn in these classes will help prepare them for the rest of their lives.”
Co-sponsor and Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp added, “students will benefit by learning credit-building skills, budgeting to pay for what they’re buying, preparing tax returns, and preventing from becoming victims of fraud. This is a great example of how we, the Legislature, can partner to bring positive change to Oregon.”
The legislation was born out of an Oregon Department of Education study issued in September 2022, found that financial education “was the most frequently cited subject that respondents across groups said students should have.”
Oregon’s credit unions convened a process designed to offer practical solutions to be a game-changer for students as they begin to receive financial education and real-world life skills training. The options provided by the state’s credit union leaders formed the basis of the bill’s educational components.
Once implemented, students will earn 1⁄2 credit on each of two tracks – one teaching higher education and career skills and the other offering personal financial education.
The career path curriculum will help students learn to apply for jobs, prepare resumes, practice job interview skills, apply for admission to higher education or career training programs, seek scholarships or financial aid, and become self- advocates for their mental, physical, and financial wellness.
The personal education curriculum will be designed to help high school students start to build financial wellness as they embark on life as adults. Skills to be taught include building credit worthiness and credit scores, budgeting, spending wisely, making loan payments, understanding the full costs of rent and homeownership, tax preparation, and fraud prevention.
Structured as not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions have long provided financial education to Oregonians. In 2022, credit unions in Oregon provided free financial education to 17,000 children and 25,285 adults, according to a GoWest community impact survey. Required classes in high school, the credit unions believe, will even better prepare the next generation.
“Investing in our students – our future leaders – by making financial and life skills essential learning in high schools, is our responsibility and will help students to thrive,” said Leavitt.
The requirement for high school graduates will apply to diplomas issued on or after January 1, 2027.
Ascend Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in Middle Tennessee, announced today that it has awarded $2,500 scholarships to 10 members. This is the 21st consecutive year Ascend has supported the ambitions of its members to further their education.
Winners of the 2023 Ascend Federal Credit Union Scholarship are:
● Aeriana Anderson – Manchester, TN – East Tennessee State University
● Aaliyah Ehiemua – Hendersonville, TN – Vanderbilt University
● George Farag – Antioch, TN – Middle Tennessee State University
● Rachel Grijalva – Shelbyville, TN – Lipscomb University
● Esther Huai – Nashville, TN – University of Pennsylvania
● Akua Kuffour – Murfreesboro, TN – South University, Savannah
● Matthew Manning – Murfreesboro, TN – Middle Tennessee State University
● Ta’Licia Martin – Murfreesboro, TN – Middle Tennessee State University
● Elizabeth Mason – Tullahoma, TN – Tennessee Technological University
● Juliet Romines – McKenzie, TN – The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
“On behalf of Ascend, I would like to congratulate these students for their hard work, academic excellence and passion to learn,” said Ascend Chief Strategy Officer Leslie Copeland. “We are proud to help students in our community fulfill their dreams, and we are excited to support these students as they begin the next chapter in their lives.”
Since starting its scholarship program in 2003, Ascend has awarded $256,000 to 226 members.
To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be members of Ascend Federal Credit Union and plan to enroll or prove enrollment as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, technical or trade school in pursuit of an associate, bachelors, masters or other advanced-degree program in the next academic year.
Details for Ascend scholarships for the 2024 academic year will be posted at ascend.org later this year. Scholarship winners may reapply for the next academic year if they meet program requirements. Ascend employees, officials and any of their family members are excluded from eligibility.
Author: Mike Lawson
Married to a most gorgeous and wonderful wife, raising 5 kiddos (including twins!), enjoy helping others tell their stories, and love surfing SoCal waves. Keep it simple.