The joys of disaster recovery

After moving from the CU to the CUSO, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many more CU people across the nation.  One thing I’ve noticed is the massive amount of resources (time and money) spent on disaster recovery and business continuity.  Obviously, getting a credit union back up and running after a disaster is critical.  Surviving said disaster is equally important.  At our last all staff meeting the topic of bird flu came up and some of the preparations that our credit union is making from a business continuity perspective to keep the credit union operational in that period of time. There were a few chuckles around the room, but ultimately, we’ll be prepared if and/or when something of that nature happens.

All of this disaster stuff I see at work started making me change some of the stuff I do at home too.  Like Brad Garland, I too have started to remotely store all of our family pictures, videos, etc off-site, meaning not in our house.  The analogy I always use was if you house burned down and you could only take one thing, what would it be?  For me, it was my computer housing all of our pictures, but now that they are backed up, I don’t have to worry about it.

Continuity is defined as the “absence of interruption”.  This has also made us change some of the other things at home.  We try to keep good batteries in the flashlights, enough water for a few days for us, theready.gov dog, and the cat, and a few basic non-perishable foods around.  A tremendous resource for at home business continuity and disaster recovery is ready.gov.  They have great info about creating a preparedness kit, how to deal with animals, and many other aspects of general preparedness.  If we all have to do this stuff everyday at work, it probably would be beneficial to do it at home as well.

If only email was more like…

Take a short trip back in time with me…

I think that email should only be controlled by a selected group of companies around the United States.  Heaven forbid that anyone could send an email!

Then each of those companies could charge money for every email sent across Al Gore’s internet.  Nothing big, just a penny or two per email would suffice.  That would stop spam, right?

As the need for email grows, said companies decide they can make more money charging other people to use their email service in bulk.  So they decide to let small companies send files to the big boys for processing and charge them a file fee.

Pretty soon Joe Consumer decides email is cool because he uses it at work and decides he wants his own.  Well, only a few of those big boys offer service to the little folks so he pays $.50 for every email he sends because he can’t get a bulk discount.

The popularity of email takes off and the big boys, trying to make the little folk happy, say, “Hey, since we are so nice, we are going to process all of your emails every morning!  That way it’ll only take a few days to get to the destination!”

That all sounds like fun, right?  Can you imagine waiting for email for days?  Or even the thought of paying for them?

So why in the world do we accept it when we transfer our own money with ACH?!?!

It's no Keynote, but…

I put together my first presentation for CUES earlier this week and posted the preview to it on the fi-linx blog.  My goal was to have zero bullet points.  Deposit Reclassification is a very boring, detailed topic that is not very interested to anyone but a CFO so I tried to make it half-way entertaining.  Needless to say, if you ever wanted to know what I really do, take a look at the presentation.  The download has all of the notes for each slide as well.  It is designed for me to walk the audience through the concept so it may make more sense with the notes.

I intently studied some of Tim’s awesome presentations with Keynote and I was very impressed.  Keynote rocks, but I’ll leave the crapple* to the apple “fan boys”.   And Denise.

*crapple – combintation of crack apple or crap apple, depending on your point of view.

Is the weakening dollar going to affect your CU?

Unless you are an ostrich and have had your head in the sand, the US economy isn’t doing great.  Arguably we are already in a recession with the dreaded word "Depression" occasionally getting thrown around if we have any type of bank runs or if more large investment or retail banks go under like Bear Stearns.  Many of our members will also be experiencing this in the near future if not right now.

So in these times of devaluation of the USD, wouldn’t it be nice to have some money in euros or pounds?  Lots of our members travel abroad and need euros anyway.  Other are interested in euros specifically to hedge their bets in the US economy.  Short of having member surveys in hand, it seems their will be a growing need for foreign currency in the future.  Many CU’s along the borders already handle currency exchange without much effort.  Even CU’s with a large membership base the travels abroad can do currency exchange.  But having euros in hand isn’t exactly the best way to transact business. 

I’ve been chatting with some people around here about the concept of any online savings account that can hold multiple currencies.  The member can simply log in to online banking and view each savings account denominated with different currencies.  If the member started doubting the US dollar, they could simply transfer the money from the USD account to their EUR account and the FI would handle the actual currency exchange behind the scenes.

The only company I’ve been able to find that does anything remotely similar is HSBC of Singapore, but that’s not to say others aren’t doing it.  CU’s can hold foreign currency.  So what’s stopping the creation of this kind of account for the US consumer?  Is it a technology hurdle with online banking?  Core processor support?  Have other CU’s even had members express a need for such an account or is this more a private banking thing that CU’s can’t really touch?