TAMPA, Fla.-The evolution of the payments landscape and new payment technologies should be at the top of credit unions' strategic planning discussions for 2013, according to Bill Lehman.

Lehman, VP Portfolio Consulting for CSCU, told Credit Union Journal with the acceleration of EMV adoption in the U.S., issuers' conversion from mag stripe cards to EMV cards by October 2015 is "vitally important." That is when the Visa and MasterCard will shift fraud liability from issuers to merchants and acquirers. Lehman said CUs need to formulate a migration strategy that works toward this deadline.

"Careful planning will ensure a smooth transition for cardholders, while balancing costs and maximizing savings for your credit union," he said.

Lehman also advised CUs to monitor mobile payment advancements, which are "quickly evolving." He said mobile solutions are "table stakes" for many members.

"Credit unions need to invest time, effort and resources on investigating and planning for the advancement of these technologies," he said. "Entering the market with the right product set is very important. Lagging in the development of a competitive mobile solution will cause credit unions to lose relationships."

Equally important, Lehman continued, is keeping strategic focus on credit and debit card optimization strategies. Building member relationships and maximizing revenue opportunities is "even more important" given recent regulatory changes. For credit cards, Lehman advised CUs to think issuance strategies, credit lines, APR and rewards.

"For debit cards, it is all about transactions," he said. "Focus on penetration, rewards, bill pay and other low-use segments. Then, look for ways to increase the return on investments. For example, use a loyalty program to help cross-sell new loans and products. Offer loyalty points with new card applications. Or, let members redeem points to earn a discounted rate on auto and other loans."

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