i have a vision

I have a vision where online banking:

  • is easy, both at home, in the car, and walking the dog.
  • has integrated account aggregation, not a separate service.
  • tracks my spending for me. No need for Quicken. And lets me categorize my expenses too.
  • lets me change my address, order a new debit card, suggest a new product to my CU, chat with a live member service rep, view my email statements easily, dispute charges, and know when I’m out of checks and orders me new ones. (Not that I actually use checks…)
  • is seamlessly integrated into the CSS of the homepage.
  • has ads that are relevant to me, not the same thing every time.
  • let me open ANY account I want to.
  • actual can replace a fully functioning branch.

Until then, beam me up Scotty.

How do you take care of your members’ well-being?

So I had two great member-centric ideas today. (In other words, the CFO might not get terribly excited, but Marketing/PR should.)

Awesome Idea #1: Help build emergency savings accounts.

Not an earth-shattering idea, but as the housing market and the economy slow in the next year, times will get tight for a few of your members. Help them be prepared by offering a new type of savings account. Here’s what the account should/would look like:

  • VERY competitive rate. Not market leading, but not prime share. (I’m thinking 4% right now, tied to some index.)
  • Only one withdrawal per month or quarter.
  • No debit card or check access
  • Unlimited deposits (Possibly funded by auto-transfers or direct deposit?)
  • Max 10K or 20K with no min. (3-6 months salary, fixed expenses, or whatever number works good for your CU.)
  • Come up with a good, catchy name.

It should get some more core deposits in, it would be great for the community, it would help your members, and it’d just be cool.

Awesome Idea #2:

Why stop member workshops at just investment seminars and bill pay workshops? I was asked today by a friend at another non-profit if I knew anyone she could use to teach some employees Word, Excel, etc. Well, I know I lot of people I work with who know those programs pretty well. Think of the expertise you have in your CU, or any company for that matter.

  • Get an IS guy to teach an Internet for Dummies type class. (Obviously, don’t call it that.) Show your members how to change their homepage, setup an email account, use PayPal and eBay, create a blog with family pictures, build a computer, or demo RSS!
  • Have your CFO, or other financially inclined person, teach an Econ 101 type, What’s the difference between a CU and Bank from a financial perspective, advanced investing (futures, currency, etc),using Prosper or Zopa, or how the stock market works.
  • Get that teller who talks about work on their MySpace page to do a MySpace class, for parents and their children.
  • Get that accounting person who knows Excel like the back of their hand to teach an Excel class to your members.

Your CU, or company, has a ton of expertise in it. And here’s a new, free, way to use it for your members benefit.

Does your CU have too many employees? Use that to your advantage!

What’s Sogo Invest?

I stumbled upon Sogo Invest the other day. Very similar to Sharebuilder, but cheaper. In addition, you can setup multiple “plans” instead of just one like Sharebuilder. Sogo has the standard per trade fee ($1) and the pricing plans to get a certain number of trades for free. You can even trade daily if you feel so inclined. I might have to try them out!

Anyone else heard of them?

WCLU stuff

I had the brief opportunity to visit the Washington Credit Union League Trade Show/Convention on Wednesday. My visit was cut short by another engagement the following day, but I was able walk around for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon.

I wasn’t able to attend any of the sessions such as Creating a Community Development Program for your Credit Union, already reviewed by OSCU here or the session about the Vantage credit scoring by Art Kics which I also heard good things about. But I walking around the booths at the trade show and I felt……..bored. I hate to say it, but there just wasn’t anything there that got me exciting.

Now I know lots of people thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and I’m sure lots of great discussions were had by all, but I guess I was just less than thrilled by the normal, ho-hum products. About the only booth I remember was ESP’s. It had a cool flat screen display and modern looking booth!

I do think that WCLU put on a good showing. The DoubleTree was nice, accomodations were good, and the company was great. I’m looking forward to the next one, but I just want to see something new, bright, and exciting.

I guess I’d just like to park my chair right between a Trabian/OSCU booth and a Zopa booth!

Is Your Site Accessible?

Target’s web site doesn’t look that much different from many others, yet it is the target of a lawsuit because it failed to make its site accessible to the blind.

This lead to a ruling a few days ago clearly stating that web sites are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This may just be the tip of the iceberg. I ask: if you turn off scripts and images, is your CU’s site usable? Can you log in to online banking?

Now is a good time to start thinking about accessibility. By adhering to a few simple standards your site can be accessible:

  • Valid XHTML is a good start. It’s a standard for the markup of web pages. It ensures compatibility between different browsers and platforms. Many sites using valid XHTML proudly display some sort of icon like this one, but they don’t need it to.
  • The Web Accessibility Initiative has several compliance levels with their accessibility standards. They ask you to consider, among other things, colors and contrast for those who cannot see color, textual descriptions of images, clarification of acronyms and abbreviations, and providing clear navigation.

I mention these because recent events show that creating standards compliant, accessible web pages is not something only web developers need to be concerned with. Furthermore, accessibility is not difficult to distinguish; you don’t have to know how to make web pages to see if a web site is WAI compliant.

Accessible web pages also rank higher on Google’s new Accessible Search.

The web is beginning to converge on standards, but it’s not there yet. The important thing is that there are standards, and that raising awareness and making them a priority is a great way to help see them widely implemented.

website eggs?

So what would happen if you hid an egg, some type of hidden content, on your new website? Incentive people for find the egg, deposit money into their account, whatever, but advertise the fact that you’ve hidden this valuable thing on your new website to make your members explore it more?

It seems to me to be a cross between the “Magic Whistle” in Super Mario 3 and some Google job advertisements like this one.