What Does 2009 Hold For IT? A Look At One Group's Forecast

WESTBURY, N.Y.-This year will bring greater reliance on electronic services and security tools as credit unions strive to meet the business needs of 2009 - including making banking easy for beleaguered members, welcoming disgruntled bank customers and fighting fraud - according to an exclusive Credit Union Journal roundtable with the Executive Committee of the CUNA Technology Council (CTC).

Meanwhile, the mantra for IT managers should be "do even more with less" and "get involved" with the business, the membership, and the community, not just the technology, the committee suggested.

Mobile and online banking functionality, kiosks and smart ATMs should top the list of e-services initiatives for 2009, committee members suggested, because these tools allow members to do business on their own time.

"Members are stressed for time and money," explained Robert Reh, new Committee member and CIO at $280-million Nassau Financial FCU in Westbury, NY. "The economy will lead to staff reductions, and remaining employees will have to work more to compensate. That will mean less leisure time and less flexibility for people to visit brick-and-mortar branches. The population in general, regardless of age, will become more dependent on electronic services."

E-services will have to be plentiful and state-of-the-art if they're going to meet the expectations of the new flood of former bank customers, Reh added. "Bank customers are coming to credit unions on a flight to safety, and we need to deliver what they have come to expect in electronic services from the big banks."

Gen Y also expects a lot from the electronic realm, continued Belinda Caillouet, VP-IT at the $1-billion Spokane Teachers CU (STCU) in Spokane, Wash. "Electronic services is how the new generation wants to interact with the institution."

Of course, e-services will save money for credit unions in the long run, Caillouet added, noting as an example that teller transactions cost STCU about $4 each, whereas each online transaction is completed for pennies, she said.

The country's parched economy will also kindle the threat of fraud, IT executives are cautioning.

"Some of the unemployed will become desperate and may resort to fraud, with resulting increases in social engineering, phishing and other identity theft," said Reh. "Security threats will increase, for which credit unions will need to plan and execute solutions."

"Keyloggers scare me to death," added Caillouet. Automatic keystroke loggers record computer users' keystrokes and mouse operations, such as network log-in passwords, which criminals can then use to login.

"Through social engineering, someone could plug a keylogger into a computer USB port and hack into the network," she said. Credit unions need to educate employees about social engineering and hire undercover fraudsters to test them, she added.

Gordon Gregory, second vice chair of the CUNA Technology Council and VP-technology for $352-million Mazuma CU in Kansas City, Mo., agreed that one theme for 2009 is "security, security, security." Credit unions can consider all aspects, including end-point and monitoring security, single-sign on capabilities, password management, third-party assessments and education, he said.