Think Federal Credit Union was a LANSA customer from 1993 to 2011 and continually invested in LANSA-based solutions during that time. The organization recently changed from being a credit union to a bank and is now called Think Mutual Bank. This significantly changed how they operate in accordance with the law, requiring Think Mutual Bank to implement a new enterprise wide core banking system – with an online banking module – to replace their credit union systems.
Think Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota and previously called IBM Mid America Employees Federal Credit Union, serves over 83,000 members and over 300 affiliate companies and organizations.
Think Credit Union uses LANSA for the Web to provide its members with Internet Home Teller, a browser-based home banking system. Home Teller integrates with and reuses Think Credit Union's proprietary core RPG banking application. Think Credit Union programmers developed the fully functional, secure home banking site in five months' time.
On average, twice as many members access the Web Site than use the telephone audio response system. Based on the success of its LANSA-based Web banking system, Think Credit Union plans to develop a wireless version of Home Teller, which will allow members to conduct their financial business using Palm devices.
Carol Timmerman, Think Credit Union's Vice President of Transaction Services, says, "Through Home Teller, our members can do all their banking – including credit card payments – in once place. Plus, adding new functionality in the future will be easier now that the LANSA Web infrastructure exists."
Credit unions are financial cooperatives owned by their customers, or "members". This means that the interests of the owners are the same as those of the members. What differentiates Think Credit Union (and other credit unions) from the banking market is that they are very member-centric.
Lisa Bien-Sinz, Executive Vice President/Chief Communications Officer at Think Credit Union, explains, "In everything we do, we focus on our members. Many companies may say that, but you will find that it is absolutely true in our company, and at every level. We are the guardians of our members' resources, because they own the shop. We are not just trying to satisfy a handful of shareholders at the top."
"An added challenge of being a credit union for IBM employees is that we have a technologically-advanced membership. Our members think ahead of the curve and were already asking for home banking once it became technically possible. Now, our members are requesting wireless access. Our objective is to keep pace with our members' expectations and the marketplace in general."
Think Credit Union was seeking a way to provide a browser-based Home Teller solution that would not require members to install any proprietary software on their PCs. It was also essential that any solution re-uses and protects the company's investment in their existing iSeries infrastructure, and use in-house staff to support the solution.
Edwina Loewen, Software Development Manager at Think Credit Union, says, "We wanted to provide our members with alternative methods for doing business with us on their terms. A few years ago, we implemented a UNIX-based packaged home banking solution that interfaced with our iSeries. That solution provided basic functionality, but we were unable to support or enhance that environment ourselves. We felt that having an in-house developed solution would permit us to be more responsive to our members, rather than having to rely on a vendor's timeframe. A solution we developed in-house would also allow us to experiment a bit and be more innovative."
"LANSA met our criteria and provided a real-time, integrated iSeries solution without introducing new hardware platforms or replicating any data."
"However, just as it was important to find the right product, we had to find the right partner. As an organization, LANSA showed respect for our service philosophy and understood the importance of what we wanted to achieve with our Home Teller solution. We received LANSA's full attention and they shared our commitment to the project."
Think Credit Union began their Joint Application Design (JAD) sessions with four staff members and two LANSA consultants in July 2000. The Home Teller solution became "live" to all members on March 8, 2001. During these nine months, five months were spent on actual development.
Now, Think Credit Union members can view "up-to-the-minute" account balances, transfer funds between accounts, view their financial account history, make loan payments, make credit card payments and download account information to home financial software packages.
Edwina comments, "Jeff, one of our senior developers, attended a LANSA for the Web class, and continued his training in-house by working alongside two LANSA consultants. With this team of three, development took five months. Jeff found LANSA easy to learn and a fun tool to work with."
"We were able to re-use all business logic that existed in our core system, so development went very quickly. Home Teller integrates with our core RPG system on the program level by passing parameters and on the file level by using the same data files real-time."
"Security was one of our primary concerns with Home Teller. We use 128-bit Secured Socket Layers (SSL) encryption, software and hardware firewalls, and we authenticate users with a password and Personal Identification Number (PIN). Our Web server receives data from our operational system and does not store data itself."
"Compared to our previous home banking solution, Home teller is more user-friendly and has more appealing screens. The application is easier to navigate and takes fewer clicks to perform transactions, and offers more functionality."
Savings directly benefit our members
Lisa says, "From the convenience of their home or from virtually anywhere in the world, Think Credit Union members can now conduct their financial business on-line in a safe and secure environment using a PC."
"Twenty-four hour availability is also a tremendous advantage. Many people do their banking in the evening hours, and many members apply for loans over the Web at two or three in the morning."
"At the same time, the savings from Internet Home Teller are significant. Home Teller has helped us decrease our transaction costs by allowing us to handle an increasing volume of business with the same number of staff. Since we are member-owned, these savings directly benefit our members."
"The number of members that conduct business over the Web has increased by 18% in the first three months compared to the former home banking system. The number of transfers made in that same period of time has increased by 24%. We reach 40% of our members via the LANSA-based Home Teller application, offering greater access and service. Twice as many members use Home Teller as the telephone audio response system."
Edwina explains, "Home Teller helps provide business opportunities to our members and helps the Credit Union better manage our costs. The project and its results reflect very well on LANSA. Our service philosophy and our business values state that our members come first. So, we must be easy to do business with. That means members must be able to conduct their business with us on their terms at any time that is convenient for them. LANSA helped us achieve that."
"LANSA allowed us to drive this project with in-house staff and to be completely in control of the results and any future enhancements. We can ask for assistance from LANSA as a company whenever we need it. We are one of the early adapters of Web-based banking, and soon, wireless access. With LANSA and our in-house staff, we can be innovative and responsive to our members' needs."
"The feedback from our members is very positive. Home Teller saves them a lot of time. Of course, our members should be able to conduct business with us in a manner that's comfortable to them, and Home Teller is only one of many avenues available to our members."
With LANSA and our in-house staff we can be innovative
Edwina concludes, "Now that Web banking has proven successful with our members, we plan to develop a wireless version of Home Teller. By the end of 2001, we plan to offer a solution so our members can conduct their financial business using Palm devices. Later, we will likely follow up with a mobile phone solution. With LANSA, we can provide wireless solutions with our in-house staff."
Lisa echoes, "What differentiates us in the financial community is our premier service and member-centric philosophy. We are extremely thoughtful about the decisions we make, and whether or not they are in the best interest of our members. Our objective is to keep pace with our members' high expectations. LANSA helps us meet this objective."
Company and System Information
- Think Federal Credit Union, founded in 1961 under the original name of IBM Mid America Employees Federal Credit Union, is headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota. Currently, Think Credit Union serves more than 83,000 members and over 300 affiliate companies and organizations. With $1.1 billion in assets and ratio of equity to assets of over 11% (as of April 30, 2003), ranks in top 0.5% of over 11,000 credit unions in the U.S. in size and financial strength.
- Think Credit Union uses 128-bit SSL encryption, software and hardware firewalls, and authenticates its users with a password and PIN. The production machine is an iSeries model 730.
- For more information, visit www.thinkcu.com
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