Listening to “CU 2.0 Podcast Episode 55 Richard Crone on Libra, Live from DN Intersect”

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Richard Crone is a longtime payments geek and when it comes to Libra, he has a particular spin.  It boils down to this: forget the talk about crypto currency. Libra fundamentally is a pre-paid account and because it is a Facebook effort, it has reach into some 2.1 billion daily users of Facebook tools (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.).

“It’s a prepaid network with global reach – there are also 90 million businesses on Facebook properties,” said Crone.

His blunt message: every credit union needs a Libra strategy and you need it now.

Understand this: Facebook may not be looking to profit off Libra per se. Its strategy seems instead to be to use Libra to drive traffic to Facebook sites and thereby increase advertising revenues.

Which may make Libra yet more attractive to financial institutions.

The conversation includes Heidi Liebenguth, managing partner at Crone Consulting, and it took place in a public space at Caesars Palace, where Crone and Liebenguth were speakers at DN Intersect, the Diebold Nixdorf meeting. There’s minor ambient noise but audio quality of the podcast is good.

Crone finds it “bizarre” that not one FDIC insured institution joined in the launch of Libra.

He also is not deterred by the regulatory scrutiny Libra has won.  In fact he sees it as a competitive advantage because it may deter competitors from plunging in with their own similar products.

Listen to this podcast and you definitely will want to dig into Libra and reach the decisions that are right for your credit union. Inaction is not a strategy.

Don’t miss a related podcast with Diebold Nixdorf executive Douglas Hartung, also on Libra.  

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Find out more about CU2.0 and the digital transformation of credit unions here. It’s a journey every credit union needs to take. Pronto

Listening to “CU2.0 Podcast Episode 54 Douglas Hartung on Libra, Live From DN Intersect “

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Buckle up for big, explosive ideas.  That’s what Douglas Hartung – senior director, business development & alliances at Diebold Nixdorf – specializes in and in this podcast he discusses Libra, bringing financial services to the globe’s underbanked and unbanked, and the exciting idea that just maybe all a person needs to send money anywhere on the planet is a smart phone.

How cool is that?

Know that just may be Libra’s promise.

While some scoff at the prospects of Libra – the Facebook backed new-style currency – Hartung believes that the sheer magnitude of the Facebook family of properties user base makes this a financial play that demands attention.

He also likes the idea of in-app payments – so in Facebook, for instance, what if you can without friction send $10 to a friend in Bali. With just a click. Without leaving the Facebook app.

Is Libra just another Bitcoin variant? Hartung says nope.  He tells why in the podcast.

A bottomline here is: pay attention to Libra.  You may regret it if you don’t.

Incidentally you will hear some taps interspersed throughout the podcast. That’s Hartung animatedly tapping on a table to emphasize his point. Get into his spirit, let the taps animate you too.

This podcast is one of a group of four recorded on site at the Diebold Nixdorf DN Intersect conference in Las Vegas, September 2019.

Don’t miss a related podcast with industry analyst Richard Crone, also on Libra. 

Like what you are hearing? Find out how you can help sponsor this podcast here. Very affordable sponsorship packages are available.

Find out more about CU2.0 and the digital transformation of credit unions here. It’s a journey every credit union needs to take. Pronto

Listening to “CU 2.0 Podcast Episode 52 David Deckelmann LiveSurvey”

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What are your members thinking about you? Say you don’t know and you are setting yourself up for failure. Say you do know and, no, you haven’t asked them because you, well, just know and you are on the fast track to extinction.

If you want to know what your members think and need, ask them.

That’s where LiveSurvey comes in.  A credit union owned CUSO – developed by MAPS Credit Union in Oregon – LiveSurvey’s mission is providing realtime, instant feedback from members that lets credit unions better chart their next actions to better serve members.

When is the last time your credit union surveyed members? How many responded? Did you get anything useful?

LiveSurvey grew out of MAPS own needs.  The credit union faced the horns of a dilemma.  On one side were very pricey, consultant driven survey products. On the other side, there are inexpensive – even free – Internet tools.  Neither gave MAPS the solution it wanted and out of that grew LiveSurvey.

About 25 credit unions now use LiveSurvey which gives them the ability to query members as they wish and on whatever topic they choose.

Prices range from $500 to $1000 monthly.

Who better to help you take the next steps to grow your credit union than existing members – who when asked right will tell you what they like and what they don’t. 

MAPS make it easy and inexpensive to know.

Every credit union needs to be doing this or similar.  It’s a competitive world out there and this is crucial intel.  And it’s yours to gather if you just ask for it.

LiveSurvey CEO David Deckelmann tells all abut it in this brisk podcast.

Like what you are hearing? Find out how you can help sponsor this podcast here. Very affordable sponsorship packages are available.

Find out more about CU2.0 and the digital transformation of credit unions here. It’s a journey every credit union needs to take. Pronto

Listening to “CU 2.0 Podcast Episode 51 Marc Schaefer Truliant”

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Can a credit union serve more than one employer group? You know what today’s answer is of course. But to know the history you need to talk with Marc Schafer, CEO of Truliant, a Winston Salem credit union.

That’s because Truliant was sued by a banker’s group in the mid 1990s that claimed it was illegal for a credit union to serve more than one employer group.  And the bankers won in the Supreme Court!

So how is it now legal? Listen to Schaefer and his tale of how HR 1151 became law – that’s the legislation that made multiple SEGs legal.

Along the way you will hear a great personal credit union success story. Schafer became CEO of the tiny FDIC credit union when he was 34 in 1986.  In 1995 he moved to Truliant which then was a $400 million credit union.

Truliant now is a $2.5 billion credit union.

That’s a remarkable growth story and of course you want to hear it.

Why is Schafer telling his story now? He retires at year end.

His is a terrific story of how to make credit unions work better, for more people.

Related podcasts in this series include Bucky Sebastian (who tells his take on HR 1151), Gary OaklandJim Blaine, and Teresa Freeborn.

As for Blaine, the retired CEO of SECU in North Carolina, he too has a story of being sued over multiple SEGs.  In an email he wrote this: “few know that the “original” FOM law suit was filed against SECU in state court (SECU is state-chartered) in 1977 by the NC Bankers Association when SECU added small city/county local govts to our FOM. The bankers beat us in the NC Supreme Court (on a split decision with the Chief Justice writing an ‘icy’ dissent!) and we had to divest about 9,000 local govt employees who had joined. We did so – being the ornery, stubborn folks we were! – by forming a federal credit union (today’s Local Government FCU @$2.5 billion) which immediately contracted for all services through SECU. LGFCU had a board and staff of 1, but immediately had a full array of services and about 50 branches at that time!  Needless to say our state bankers were ‘not pleased’ and sued in federal court (we forced it out of our state courts since LGFCU was federally chartered!). LGFCU/SECU won on appeal in the 3rd District (Richmond) and the bankers decided not to appeal to the US Supreme Court. When they later came gunning for Marc, the bankers made sure it got heard in the 4th District (DC) which is far more ‘business friendly’ – the 4th ruled in favor of the banks, which led to the adverse Supreme Court decision, the Campaign for Consumer Choice, and HR 1151.”

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 25 Michael Peck on Worker Co-ops

by Robert McGarvey

There are maybe 400 worker owned co-ops in the US today.  How many will there be 10 years from now?

Ask Michael Peck, a founder of 1worker1vote, and he says there will be four million.

That’s no typo.  He added, “I really believe we are at a tipping point.”

Worker co-ops now are burning brightest in the constellation of cooperative initiatives.  There is vastly more enthusiasm and energy around worker co-ops than any other kind.  This year perhaps two or three new credit unions will be chartered.  There will be hundreds of times more new worker co-ops.

Peck however is no newcomer to worker co-operatives. He has been promoting them for at least a quarter century and he has long had a tie to Mondragon, the immensely successful Basque co-op that in fact is a global business.

Peck accordingly sees immense potential for Mondragon-style co-ops to sprout in the US.

A key, in his mind, is a cooperative ecosystem.  A stand alone co-op has tough going.  When a new co-op is surrounded by like mined people and businesses it’s just much more likely to prosper, says Peck.

He works to create that ecosystem.  For instance: he is very optimistic about the role labor unions can play in helping to develop new worker co-ops and that could be a win-win for unions which of course have suffered dramatic drops in membership and clout in the past quarter-century.  But just maybe a focus on starting worker co-ops may produce a brighter outlook for unions.

By Peck’s count maybe 10% of US workers have an ownership stake in where they work.

But when workers are also owners they work harder and smarter.

“Workplace democracy is possible for everybody,” says Peck.

Listen in to hear the past, present and possible future of worker co-ops.

Fyi: The Cooperators Podcast has often focused on worker co-ops. Past episode include Esteban Kelly,  Melissa HooverFrank Shipper, and Alex Stone.

Peck in the podcast mentioned the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative. Click the link to learn more.

Also mentioned is a Barron’s piece on the good immigrants do for the US. Read it here.

Listen to the Peck podcast here.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 26 Special Edition Mike Edwards WOCCU on International Trends

This podcast initially appeared the CU 2.0 Podcast series. It appears here as a for instance of a community coming together and creating a cooperative to meet local needs.

Quick now, what country has the highest participation in credit unions? Say the US and you are wong. According to Mike Edwards, senior vice president for advocacy at the World Council of Credit Unions, it’s Ireland, north and south, where 70% belong.

In this podcast he tells why that participation is so high.

He also tells why many regulatory matters in the US in fact originate overseas – risk based capital, Bank Secrecy Act requirements, AML, and more got their start overseas and that is why Edwards spends much of his time monitoring and attempting to influence regulations overseas.

What happens in Basel does not stay in Basel.  It may and probably will wind up in the US.

Listen in to this informative podcast.

The Cooperators, Special Edition, Maine Harvest

Update: Maine Harvest now officially a new credit union. Hard work makes miracles happen.

This podcast initially appeared the CU 2.0 Podcast series. It appears here as a for instance of a community coming together and creating a cooperative to meet local needs.


It has taken some years but finally Maine Harvest may be in the final lap before gaining an official credit union charter.  That’s because it’s met its fundraising goal, $2.4 million, with last monies ponied up by the Maine Credit Union League and what’s remarkable is that just about the whole credit union movement in the state has supported formation of this novel credit union.

So, too, do the states two U.S. Senators and two House members.

Maybe 30 credit unions have been chartered by NCUA in the past decade. So this is a big deal.

We first covered the Maine Harvest story in 2015.

We picked it up again in 2017.

And in 2019 we may be covering the official opening.

What’s special about Maine Harvest is that it intends to follow a  specific, narrow business plan where it makes loans to small farmers – for land purchase, equipment purchase, and similar.

No checking. In fact no cash in the till.

No other institutions crave that loan business. But small farming is seen as very important to Maine’s future.

Also essential to the business plan is that essentially all the back office will be provided by Synergent, a subsidiary of the Maine League.

That lets the start up focus on finding borrowers and making sound loans.

Why do many credit unions fail? They don’t serve a clear need.

This one knows its need and has a plan for filling it.

Other states would do well to look into similar efforts.