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STL Business Journal Highlights Credit Unions

On June 5, the St. Louis Business Journal featured several articles about credit unions. One spotlighted the many resources credit unions put into protecting their members’ financial identities, while another asked credit union presidents to weigh in on topics like membership trends and new initiatives.

Read below for a brief summary of each article.

Focus on Fraud Protection

In the article “Small Credit Unions: Fraud Protection Costs Add Up,” both small and large credit union representatives explained how they protect their members from fraud and identity theft.

Some larger credit unions are investing in the new, more secure chip card. The chip card costs nearly twice as much as a debit card with a magnetic strip, but it’s necessary to keep up with bigger banks with more resources.

“There are lots of new and ongoing technological methods to prevent fraud and as a large financial institution we know our members expect us to be just as tech savvy as our banking peers,” says Laura Alfeldt, vice president of marketing for First Community Credit Union (Chesterfield). “We plan to spend $250,000 this year alone on enhanced fraud products for members like the chip card and CardNav.”

Smaller credit unions also focus on fraud protection. Steve Poniewaz, vice president of operations for First Missouri Credit Union (Lemay Ferry), shared that the credit union spends a lot of time protecting members. Members’ accounts are monitored on a 24-hour basis for fraudulent activity. In major instances of fraud, the credit union issues new debit cards to members.

“The Schnuck’s breach cost us just under $30,000 total with about $25,000 in losses and $5,000 in hard cost for re-issuing the cards to all members,” says Poniewaz.

Liz Adams, SVP of member relations for the Missouri Credit Union Association, said small credit unions would still use the same service providers as a larger credit union. Being smaller, they would also be more likely to know all the members and detect problems more quickly.

Q&A with Credit Union Presidents

The St. Louis Business Journal asked four credit union presidents to weigh in on membership trends, new initiatives and biggest threats to credit unions. Participating credit union presidents included: Bob McKay, of Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union (St. Louis); Larry Pixley, of Gateway Metro Federal Credit Union (Affton); Frank Padak, of Scott Credit Union (Edwardsville, Ill.); Eric Acree, of Vantage Credit Union (Bridgeton).

Overall, credit unions reported growth in membership—ABECU reported a growth of 5%, Scott Credit Union grew in excess of 10% and Vantage saw more than 12% overall membership growth.

Efforts to attract new members center around technology—the presidents overwhelmingly responded that their credit unions offer online services and have worked to create apps and mobile access for members.

Regulatory burden was cited as a major concern for credit unions.

“We recently had to outsource some of our mortgage lending operations due to new regulations. Not only are these regulations an added cost to the credit union, but it also takes away our ability to maintain quality control,” says Pixely.

If you subscribe to the St. Louis Business Journal, you can access the full article here.

Caption: Photo of Steve Poniewaz, of First Missouri Credit Union, by Dilip Vishwanat that accompanied the St. Louis Business Journal story.