On-site: One Canadian CU is all That and a Text MSG

By: Jamie Chase – CUinsight.com Contributor


The One Conference is a groundbreaking event. Global cooperative financial leaders meeting at the most profit-maximizing backdrop in the world, Las Vegas, provides an interesting and odd juxtaposition to CU thrift and philosophy. Do not mistake my love for irony: It is awe-inspiring. Conversations shaping our international movement are the main event. International regulators are publicly debating interchange, taxation, term-limits, and secondary capital: the issues of our time.

It’s surreal making friends from Kenya, Poland and Australia. Two women from Guatemala started a currency exchange at our table without using a common language. I shared and departed with currency from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Bostwana. What inspired me most was a man from Canada. He is setting the bar high for his U.S. friends.

Gene Blishen, he’s not just the General Manager of Mount Lehman Credit Union; or just the President of Credit Union Foundation of BC; and he doesn’t just have the freshest business card (imagine ripe tomato splashing into water). He’s five years ahead of the curve. That’s when they launched “Member Note.”

With a modest $47 million in assets Mount Lehman offers something that few, if any, credit unions in the U.S. provide to members- text message alerts. That’s an undertaking for any credit union, a huge deal for a mid-size credit union- and they are on the third generation of the software.

The results:

  • 67,000 transactions daily.
  • 23 percent of members use the service.
  • Over 100 options for members to select to be notified of account status, including low-balance detection to avoid overdraft.
  • No lost fee generation for the credit union.

Blishen is a pioneer. Five years ago he saw a future where his credit union was relevant and no longer needed to worry about what the competition was doing. That’s what he said. Instead he focused on his mission, and invented a service based on our roots. It is brilliant, simply giving consumers what they want and need to be responsible. It’s not just the technology; his story is credit union philosophy practically applied to today’s challenges. Reminds me of the Louise Herring quote, “We must remember what we started out to do and then find ways to do it with the modern techniques available.”

Jamie Chase, is Principal and Instigator of Goodness, Credit Union Strategic Planning, known for introducing the PBS program, BizKid$ to the credit union movement and for supporting credit unions in Africa. She is covering the One Conference for CUInsight, while being honored as one of only 25 people in the world to receive the International Development Educator (iDE) Designation.



Jamie Chase

Jamie Chase

Jamie is the founder of CU Strategic Planning. Annually, she leads the program development of millions of dollars in award-winning CDFI grants. She is one of only 20 individuals designated ... Web: www.creditunionstrategicplanning.com Details