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CU*Answers: A Cooperative Business Design at the Center of Core Solutions

CIO VendorRandy Karnes, CEO
Credit union departments across the world are overwhelmed with balancing the processes they have already committed to with the sense that there is so much more they must do to succeed. “The number one issue is credit union survival and the confidence that they can find solutions that fit that goal,” begins Randy Karnes, CEO, CU*Answers. CIOs specifically are faced with many challenges that include becoming more competent with data, managing the mounting pressure around security and fraud, vendor of choice network extensions, and “Mobile, mobile, mobile!” says Karnes.

From hosting boot camp events revolving around the development and use of data, to shared log management services, and the Internet Retailer Support Center, CU*Answers has the answer to their woes. And unlike a traditional vendor model, where the bottom line is the most important factor, CU*Answers’ cooperative CUSO business design that involves its customer-owners in the development process guarantees a win-win environment that other vendor business designs have a difficult time emulating. “We take pride in working with our credit unions to provide excellent products and services, while giving back as much as we can in the form of reduced pricing and patronage dividends,” adds Karnes.

CU*Answers’ flagship product, CU*BASE®, is a data processing system that combines member information databases, marketing tools, along with a graphical interface to shorten the staff learning curve. The platform is made available in both an Application Services Provider environment and as a self-processing solution, which helps credit unions to be shared processors. “The strength of CU*BASE is in its flexibility. It allows a high degree of customization for each credit union to tailor the system to their specific needs,” says Karnes.

In addition to CU*BASE, credit unions can utilize the firm’s online banking service—It’s Me 247 Online Banking— along with its related suite of products through different channels.

The strength of CU*BASE is in its flexibility and the focus on customer-owner driven development


With the help of It’s Me 247 and its associated mobile banking solutions, smaller credit union clients can offer services to members that might otherwise have been unaffordable, enabling those credit unions to compete with the larger financial institutions. “The key is low cost of entry,” delineates Karnes. “We have recognized the difficulties of smaller credit unions in offering members modern and often expensive solutions.”

Beyond the core solutions and products, CU*Answers Managed Services works extensively with clients to ensure they get the most out of their investment. With the help of CU*Answers’ SettleMINTteam, credit unions can enjoy a one stop location for all Electronic Funds Transfer related projects including ATM/debit and credit cards, instant issue cards, shared branching, and bill pay. The key is a strong commitment to collaboration and cooperation. Sharing information and best practices is a regular occurrence between credit unions within the CUSO network, and CU*Answers has developed a wide variety of solutions to promote that behavior, from Learn from a Peer CU*BASE tools, to a policy sharing website, and Building a Factory documents.

To fit in today’s expanding focus on credit unions as well as regulated banking organizations, credit union vendors can utilize CU*BASE SE, a financial account servicing platform to build network portfolios and solutions in a single platform. With the help of this platform, clients can focus on diverse issues that enable them to build broader solutions. “We will build a future with CUs who see the potential in cooperative customer-owner business networks as much, or even more so, than the current doctrine of just being a credit union,” says Karnes.

“The products and services in our future are the ones that track where consumers are going, and where credit unions will follow.” To accomplish this, the firm will focus on tactics that will redefine credit union retailing, participating with members via mobile solutions, and finding more opportunity through the data that will lend insights to serve clients better.