Hafa Adai from Guam!
I recently arrived back in island after attending my first year as a student at the CUNA Management School hosted by the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before the trip I was anxious about the whole experience; going back to school, making friends, fitting in and being in a completely new place. But then I focused on the positives. I would be learning about my industry, networking with peers and trying new things. In the end, it was an awesome experience. I especially enjoyed and appreciated the “Credit Union History” course. Learning about how credit unions began in Germany, about Edward Filene - the father of US Credit Unions, the relevance of Estes Park, Colorado, etc – I was so intrigued. I can go on and on about the history but I feel the most important of all that I learned was the roots of the credit union movement; members helping members.
This learning got me thinking about my roles at the credit union. Leading the team that handles the implementation and maintenance of electronic services, how am I going to help members beyond simply providing ATMs or processing wire transfers? Is it even possible to provide something truly meaningful to members in my line of work? Every financial institution provides these services. How can I use my role to one-up what’s offered out there and truly help our members?
One of the credit union’s goals that I play a big role in is expanding our Business Member portfolio. The credit union is a proud supporter of small business development and local businesses, but we haven’t been able to reach or attract them. Why? Currently, our offering does not include merchant services, hindering our ability to provide ultimate convenience to our Business members and our chances of being their primary financial institution. To address this, I have initiated discussion with Visa International and MasterCard Worldwide to achieve principal membership status, which will enable the credit union to provide a complete business suite. I believe in the credit union philosophy, and the value behind our products and services. To be able to offer a complete suite will help us spread the credit union difference.
Leading this project has been tough. Numerous hurdles and challenges have come our way and we anticipate more to come. Acquiring membership should be simple for almost any financial institution located in the US, however our position in the industry is quite unique. We are a federally chartered credit union operating in a US Territory; however, our geographic location of Guam places us in the Asia/Pacific region for card services. Merging and understanding US and international regulations has been quite an obstacle. Good news is we successfully acquired Visa principal member status earlier this year.
My experience this past summer has given me insight and provided new meaning to my goals. I’ve come to realize it’s not just applying for MasterCard principal membership, not about expanding our Business Merchant portfolio by offering merchant services and providing excellent service delivery. It goes beyond just providing what members need. It’s about spreading the credit union difference.
It’s reaching out to small business owners who typically shy away from technology because they think it will cost more to implement. Guidance and the necessary tools are all they need to become more efficient and save money. They need to understand that this technology not only saves time and money, but it also helps our environment. As Guam’s first LEED certified building, environmental sustainability is another priority of the credit union – but perhaps a topic for a later blog.
It’s all about teaching business members the benefits of banking with a credit union and utilizing electronic service to maximize convenience. It’s supporting small and local businesses by giving them the basic tools to operate and thrive, ultimately contributing to our community. At Coast360, we believe that “Together we thrive.”
Learn, create and educate. This is what I have taken with me so far from this ongoing experience. I’m thankful I’ve learned about credit union history. It will help me create a better suitable, sustainable product and service. As they say, history tends to repeat itself and I’m thrilled to be retracing the roots of the credit union movement to educate. Technology, service and culture fused together to complete my goals and through constant innovation and education, it would have a greater purpose.