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Cooperative Technology Solutions CUSO formed to acquire CU-Interface and its mpowered system

Credit Unions join to purchase their core data processor.

CU-Interface, provides the mpowered platform to more than 30 credit unions and was formed nearly 20 years ago by its current CEO, Tom Burkhardt and business partner, Jason Akin. Cooperative Technology Solutions (CTS) is the result of a collaboration of CUI clients with the goal of enhancing the credit union core processing experience.

The CTS board is chaired by Tim Chapman, president and CEO of Members Community Credit Union ($85M, Muscatine, IA). Also involved are Abbey Community Credit Union ($132.1M, Vandalia, OH), CSE FCU($372.6M, Canton, OH), and Tendto Credit Union ($141.6M, Erie, PA). Additional credit unions have committed to invest by the end of September 2022.

CU-Interface describes itself as a boutique company that believes in quality over quantity in this essential business relationship and that credit unions should thrive by taking full advantage of their core’s technology, not merely survive despite their core’s limitations.

Here’s more about mpowered and the new CUSO.

What in a nutshell is the vision for CTS and the mpowered platform?

Cooperative Technology Solutions: The new CUSO will collaborate and enhance the core for current and future users. The purchase of CU-Interface will facilitate additional hiring and pave the way for additional mpowered users to shape the company’s roadmap through advisory groups.

Will you be keeping the mpowered name for the CU-Interface platform?

CTS:The mpowered namespeaks to our mission of empowering users with member data at your fingertips, so we will be keeping this trusted brand.

What challenges will the new Cooperative Technology Solutions Group help its credit union clients overcome?

CTS:In this era of consolidation, credit unions can find themselves at the mercy of their oftentimes much larger trading partners. First and foremost, CTS members control their destiny by owning their core data processor. Regardless of size or investment, credit unions using mpowered will be steering the product roadmap through user advisory groups that will balance the needs of larger and smaller credit unions.

What opportunities will CTS help its credit union clients leverage?

CTS:The cooperative bargaining power of multiple credit unions helps overcome barriers to entry like minimum transaction thresholds or expedited certifications when onboarding with approved vendors. For example, market sectors like bill pay and remote deposit are dominated by a small number of actual providers abstracted by numerous resellers. CU-Interface connects directly to the largest providers, eliminating costly resellers for participating credit unions.

Ultimately,mpowered credit unions will be able to leverage economies of scale unavailable to them on their own, including through fintech partnerships and other vendor opportunities. They also will be able to develop and provide shared services in the back office, call center, and data analytics operations.

What differentiates your core processing platform from the competition?

CTS:CU-Interface has worked to create an affordable, high-caliber product to empower credit unions to do what they do best: serve their members. The mpowered is member-based, rather than account-based, providing a user-friendly and highly intuitive interface that effectively accesses and records members’ account information.

Because it isn’t cobbled together from various third-party components, member service representatives can seamlessly assist members with basic account questions, loan origination, credit card processing, online access, or collections information all within the same interface.No need to sift through each account a member has with their cooperative.

Please describe some of the features integrated into your core platform and how they’re developed.

CTS:mpowered’s seamless functionality includes teller line check scanning, mobile apps, home banking, bill pay, automated daily share draft, ACH and debit card processing, automated loan approval, member onboarding, e-signature, remote deposit capture, document/form generation, collection processing, investment tracking, real-time general ledger, document management system with real-time transaction imaging, and much more.

Our highly integrated system is based on the newest Microsoft platforms to provide open interoperability with modern platforms, including Excel, Word, and PDF documents. All the development efforts for the mpowered core are done in conjunction with credit union management and personnel, from feature request through final certification. We listen to the needs of the users and let their core processing wish list become reality.

Please describe the integration capabilities of your platform with the wide range of ancillary services necessary for credit unions to compete in today’s market.

CTS:CU-Interface built mpowered with a vendor agnostic philosophy. We integrate directly with multiple national and regional vendors for essential services like ATM, ACH, Check 21, Member Rewards programs, Bill Pay, Indirect Lending, Gap insurance and more. In many areas, we offer an included solution, but also enable credit unions to exchange data with their existing vendors.

Please describe the support your CUSO will provide your client credit unions, both in person and virtually.

CTS:As owners and users of the platform CTS has a vested interest in putting forth the best product possible to meet our credit unions’ needs. CTS is already exploring options for adding shared services such as back office and enhanced accounting support since the member credit unions all use the samempoweredinterface for their operations.CU-Interface will continue supporting client credit unions day to day from the company’s newly expanded office in Richfield, OH.

Please describe the ownership opportunities that will be available for other credit unions to get involved with the new CUSO.

CTS:CTS is building toward 100% ownership in five years. To align members philosophically, CTS participation is open only to current CU-Interface credit union clients. In the cooperative spirit, CTS has also capped member investment so no one credit union can buy majority control of the board.

How can a credit union contact you to learn more about the new CUSO both as a prospective client and a prospective owner?

CTS:Credit unions interested in learning more about mpowered can start their core search at www.cuinterface.comor call Christian Dabney at 330.741.9495. Prospective investors can email info@ctscuso.comor find board slides at www.ctscuso.com.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
September 19, 2022

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