CUFX Backer Issues Call To Action

Industry-specific software integration standards in place at one credit union but more to come.

Jeff Johnson wants some company. The chief information officer/senior vice president at BCU ($1.99B, Vernon Hills, IL) heads up technology at the only credit union that has gone live with the CUFX standards its backers have long said can revolutionize how fast the industry can get to market with new products and services needed to compete.

At BCU, the software integration standards created by and for credit unions have been used to tie the 188,895-member BCU’s Symitar core processing platform to the MoneyDesktop personal financial management software and to FreedomPay, a white label e-commerce platform used at cafeterias at some of the big credit union’s SEG locations.

I’m feeling frustrated because the CUFX standards are such the right thing to do and would do so much to make us more competitive as an industry. We need more adoption, Johnson says. We’ve got this great foundational element but just not enough people have been convinced yet of the benefits.

That’s after three and a half years and approximately 20,000 hours of work so far by software architects and other technology experts. Among that group of approximately 75 volunteers are folks from the only core processor committed to implementing the standards so far and representatives from the integrating standards’ lead sponsor the CUNA Technology Council.

Symitar announced earlier this summer that it would integrate the latest version of the CUFX standards which Johnson says includes significant security enhancements among other upgrades into the widely used Episys core processing platform in an upgrade slated for release in 2016..

The chair of the CUNA Technology Council also says more credit union users are on the way and that the commitment by the industry’s technology leaders has not waned.

The council sees tremendous value in CUFX for the credit union industry. Because it’s focused on the way we run our business and our data needs, it improves member experience and employee efficiency. It also reduces complexity, operating expense and increases speed of delivery for new implementations, says Belinda Caillouet, chief operations and information officer at Spokane Teachers Credit Union ($1.9B, Spokane, WA).

Caillouet also says her own credit union is looking toward deploying the CUFX standards in the months ahead, and hasn’t yet simply because of timing.

When we were working through the implementation of our new online/mobile banking system, the CUFX standard was not ready for adoption, the tech council chair says. But we’re looking at a couple of new projects early next year where we plan to take advantage of the standards.

Caillouet adds that her 127,700-member credit union, which runs on the PhoenixEFE core platform from Davis + Henderson, continues to support the CUFX work with people and money, and that BCU and STCU are not alone.

There are several credit unions involved in CUFX through their financial support and help in developing standards for adoption, she says. We’re also beginning to see language to support CUFX in RFPs to vendors.

Meanwhile, Johnson and Caillouet both stress that core processor participation needs to happen to get the CUFX train really rolling.

Core processor support is critical in realizing all of the benefits CUFX offers. The council has engaged all of the major cores and we continue to have ongoing dialogue around CUFX, Caillouet says, noting that a vendor advisory board was announced at the council’s recent annual conference.

This is not only open to core providers but also third-party vendors, and it’s gotten strong support from the vendor community, the STCU executive says. A key objective of the advisory board is to ensure representation by all technology providers.

Meanwhile, Ted Bilke, president of Symitar, says he, too, is disappointed that more core vendors have not joined his Jack Henry & Associates subsidiary at the CUFX table.

He sees mutual benefit: From our view, standardizing the interfaces across vendors has significant benefit for credit unions and for core and complementary product vendors. Support for standard interfaces would be easier and less costly, and from the broader Jack Henry perspective, having open interfaces to other cores systems would provide an opportunity for JHA/ProfitStars/Symitar to sell a wide range of complementary products.

That would include home and mobile banking to document and check imaging systems, Bilke says, adding, The same would be true for the other major industry players selling into Symitar’s base: more options for credit unions and larger opportunity for core vendors to sell complementary products to new clients outside their core base.

October 10, 2014

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