University of Wisconsin Credit Union in Madison with $730 million in assets was the first credit union in the state to offer home banking to members, so it shouldn't come as a big surprise that it's also the first (that we know of) to offer RSS content feeds to members. Because UW Credit Union's members skew demographically young (the average age is mid-thirties) and tech-savvy (half the 100,000-member base are avid home banking users) Eric Bangerter, director of internet services, recognized RSS as a practical and inexpensive solution to promote wider adoption of the monthly content of its website (http://www.uwcu.org).
Although adding RSS feeds to its site wasn't a strategic decision and didn't correlate to a particular business operation, Bangerter said that because the credit union is tied to an educational institution, “We are known as a provider of financial education and a source of information as well as a provider of products and services.”
So what is ? The letters stand for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, and if you've ever visited a blog, you've probably made use of it because it's a popular means of syndicating website content, such as news headlines. As Bangerter explains, “This process allows users to read ‘what's new' on various Websites without having to visit each site or subscribe to e-mail newsletters. RSS feeds contain headlines and hyperlinks to longer articles or Web pages soon after they are published.”
UW Credit Union's web developer suggested to Bangerter about including RSS and it's been active just over a month. UW Credit Union currently uses RSS to syndicate its education articles—updated monthly—to appeal to and better serve its member base that prefers this non-traditional approach to Internet usage.
No one knows what impact RSS might have in the financial industry, nor is it widely seen. UW Credit Union, being a technical leader amongst its peers, adopted it because they are willing to try new things and there was virtually no cost attached.
To create the XML-based RSS feeds, UW Credit Union created customized database and software architecture. The various RSS feed fields that pertain to each education article are stored in a database. Separate pieces of software were built to collate articles by topic, assemble the corresponding RSS feeds, and disseminate them through public web channels.
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Member adoption of UW Credit Union's RSS feeds is growing, but no conclusions on its impact, as it relates to depth of member relationships, can be drawn at this time, said Bangerter. Currently, UW Credit Union is exploring other uses of RSS as it pertains to its online operations.
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