What can credit unions learn from Facebook?

Facebook recently announced their move to translate the site into different languages for use all over the world.  Facebook, facing a massive translation project, did what any good web 2.0 company would do: make their users do it.

Facebook has created an app called Translations that lets users translate phrases and then vote on their accuracy.  What a great way to take on a large and normally internal project.

What could credit unions stand to learn from this?  What could we “outsource” to our members?  Product development comes to my mind first.  Let our members tell us what they want.

Source: Mashable

UPDATE:  The link in the Mashable article to the Facebook translations page doesn’t work.  It seems Mashable got a little ahead of themselves or Facebook had a slight leak.  Either way, the concept is still firm.  How could credit unions take advantage of this trend?

No, you can't know what movies I watch!

Blockbuster and Facebook have recently come under attack for some aspects of Beacon, Facebook’s semi-new intrusive marketing tool.  Years ago, when I actually worked at Blockbuster, it was fairly well known that you couldn’t divulge what movies someone has watched.  Similar to how you have the primary member at a CU, the account holder of a Blockbuster account had to given written permission for their history to be divulge to a third party, even if that person was a spouse or a "joint" account holder.  When wives frequently called up to ask what movies they had out, if the account was under the name of the husband we couldn’t tell them.  Not to customer friendly, but it was the law. 

Movie Clique, Blockbuster’s Facebook app, lets you share your movie watching history with other Facebook users.  While this sounds cool and very web 2.0, it also appears to be illegal.  According to a law professor at the New York School of Law, the two companies should be preparing for incoming lawsuits.

So what does this mean for CU’s?  First off, that it is actually harder to share movie rental history with a spouse than it is to share banking transactions.  Personally, I feel like banking transactions are a little more private than that, yet they are not afforded the same legal protection.  With the recent advent of Mint, Wesabe, Cake, etc, our member’s information is getting spread all over the web and we to be very aware of how this info is being consumed.  It would also be a good idea to ensure your branch staff are relatively tight-lipped about the info they give out.

Which pen would you rather use?

Pen Wars

For some reason, the left picture is how I view credit unions and the picture on the right is how I view cool banks like Umpqua, or in this case, Commerce Bank.  Maybe flashy things attract me, but I think I know where I’d rather go to bank.

From the Consumerist and copyranter.  Pictures from Days of Heaven.

Also see the latest post on the fi-linx blog.

Those with the most power win

So we’ve had some pretty exciting weather here in Oregon the past couple of days.  125 MPH gusts on the beach, 50 in the valley for Portland and Salem.  I was getting ready for work this morning and caught the "live on the scene" reporting from Lincoln City, OR, a small coastal town best known for the casino and outlet malls.  The entire town is without power.  They can’t even get a radio to transmit the emergency broadcast signal.  However, it appears that Chinook Winds, the casino, has the necessary redundant systems and has not been affected by the city wide power outage.  The whole town is black and they can’t even broadcast an emergency signal, but the neon lights of the casino are up and running.

The whole situation made me chuckle this morning.  What happens when your city goes down and your members make a run on your branches?  Who will be able to serve their members?  In my mind it is easy to see that FI’s should be more important than a casino during large scale power outage.  But not many CU’s could afford the massive backup systems that Chinook Winds can employ.  I always had the Tim Allen, "more power" attitude and loved the idea of having a big data center with lots of servers.  But the shear cost of running that and having fully N+1 redundant systems is massively expensive. 

So what’s a CU to do?  Outsource DR to a third-party?  That only gets you so far.  Chances are you can’t switch your system over to a remote location in a timely manner.  Partner with other local CU’s to open one data center and be able to afford all of the necessary backup systems?