Changing the Channel: How One Credit Union Took Control of its Online Delivery Channel

With a name like Technology Credit Union (Tech CU - $1.1 billion, based out of San Jose, California), you have to be good at offering the latest technology solutions. Tech CU's 75,500 members - including 30,000 active online users, primarily from Silicon Valley SEGs - count on it.




With a name like Technology Credit Union (Tech CU - $1.1 billion, based out of San Jose, California), you have to be good at offering the latest technology solutions. Tech CU's 75,500 members - including 30,000 active online users, primarily from Silicon Valley SEGs - count on it.

But what happens when the employees of a credit union as progressive as Tech CU realize that its current ecommerce platform cannot meet their needs for on-the-fly customization, smooth third-party integration, and lower operating costs? Victor Smilgys, Tech CU's ecommerce manager, knew it was time for a change when he learned that alternate solutions were currently available within the credit union community.


To provide members with a full suite of online services, it is essential that an ecommerce platform can integrate with a wide variety of systems in addition to the host processor. MemberBridge™ is built with an open architecture making it easy to integrate disparate applications. This allows the Credit Union to deliver a variety of services under one online banking interface.

''Because we were able to integrate multiple applications with MemberBridge that previously was not possible under our old platform, we have been able to automate many manual processes,'' says Smilgys. ''This has improved our efficiency and reduced our operations head count.''

Tech CU Vice President of Delivery Systems Mike Luckin, Vice President of Information Technology Scott Lindley, along with CEO Ken Burns, discovered MemberBridge during a demonstration given by Patelco Credit Union and GTE Federal Credit Union in late 2001. Offered by corporate credit unions and Corporate Network eCom, LLC (eCom), a majority-owned subsidiary of U.S. Central Credit Union, MemberBridge is an in-house development platform that acts as a translation gateway (middleware) to connect a credit union's online services to its host system. It enables smooth integration among a variety of applications in addition to those within the host system - giving the credit union the freedom to create a seamless look and feel for members.

In April 2002, Tech CU staff decided that this development platform was a perfect fit, and in October 2002, Tech CU migrated to the MemberBridge Server and installed the MemberBridge Internet Banking application. Currently, its online menu includes Internet banking, bill payment and presentment, person-to-person payments, eStatements, check images, online check ordering and reordering, and secure messaging.


For Tech CU, control was key to transforming its current ecommerce platform into an open solution.

''Several factors went into our decision to convert to MemberBridge. Simply put, we wanted more control over our electronic services delivery channel. This solution is so easy to use - customizing applications and adding new features is virtually effortless,'' Smilgys says. ''I don't have to wait for my provider to evaluate my request anymore. I simply go into the system and make modifications myself.''

Smilgys noted that prior to the MemberBridge conversion, adding new features involved a lengthy process. For example, the addition of a new account code to a table for display in the Internet banking account summary list was going to cost more and take several weeks to complete under the old platform. ''Now, it takes just five minutes with no additional expenses to make this kind of enhancement,'' explains Smilgys.

Credit union focus

Smilgys likes the fact that eCom focuses solely on credit unions. Many ecommerce providers focus on large banks and do not target credit unions. For Tech CU, this typically translated into response delays and additional costs.

Because the MemberBridge solutions were built for the sole purpose of serving credit unions in a cooperative environment, Tech CU is able to collaborate, share ideas and even exchange custom-developed code and functionality with other MemberBridge users.

Support and cost savings

eCom provides support to Tech CU for MemberBridge products at no charge during regular business hours. In addition, eCom also has after-hours technical support available on an as-needed basis. However, because MemberBridge was developed with open architecture using ASP, the Credit Union typically handles its own troubleshooting.

Tech CU staff frequently uses the MemberBridge administration tools for running a variety of reports, managing member relationships, and collecting data for cross-marketing opportunities.

The average cost difference between competitive solutions and MemberBridge is typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tech CU is realizing a significant cost savings due to its ability to self-install and self-update, and reasonable license and support fees. Furthermore, third-party customization costs are avoided. Because eCom is a subsidiary of U.S. Central, credit unions must have a settlement relationship with a corporate to sign up for MemberBridge.

In the near future, Tech CU plans to integrate email notifications, recurring transfers, inter-institution transfers, and convert to the Microsoft .NET Framework - all using the MemberBridge platform.

For more information about MemberBridge, visit, call 1-888-656-4050 and select option one, or contact your corporate credit union.




Oct. 6, 2003



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