BINGHAMTON, N.Y.-A Groupon-like offering is now available to credit unions.

SaveAround has sold local coupon books (similar to the popular "Entertainment" books) since the early 1990s. While its core business continues to be coupon books, it expanded in 2008 to electronic daily deals.

Rather than compete directly with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial, SaveAround works with what President Luke Stanton called "specific channel partners" to provide value adds for their customers or, in the case of credit unions, members.

"When you talk specifically with the credit union space, they're a very competitive space, and they're always trying to give value adds to existing customers, but also create other relationships and increase transactional spend on their credit or debit cards," said Stanton.

SaveAround has been working with FIs for approximately 18 months, said Stanton, and banks and CUs currently comprise about 20% of its overall business. FIs that partner with SaveAround do not pay for the service; rather, SaveAround takes a percentage of all deals the institution sells in a 75/25 split, with the CU's portion rising to a maximum of 50% as the program gains popularity.

"Typically you see programs mature around the 9-12 month mark. It takes a lot of time in the daily deals space for programs to mature," said Stanton.

Program is Customizable

The SaveAround program can be customized with a CU's name and logo, while SaveAround provides turnkey services, including merchant management and marketing assistance to members. Unlike Groupon, SaveAround will run deals for a few days or longer, which extends the life of the program and helps to avoid burning out local merchants.

"It's been a win-win for us, because the daily deals space is very cluttered right now and has a lot of moving pieces," said Stanton. "The last thing credit unions want to do is deal with merchant acquisition, how does the platform work, how does the interchange work? But consumers want it, so it's one of those Catch 22s: How do I get involved but not have to hire 50 people?"

Stanton said SaveAround specifically asks the user to pay with their CU-issued credit or debit card, though it is not required. For dormant accounts, the CU can also issue specific coupons that can only be used if the member pays with a CU-issued card. Coupons carry a merchant-specific code that lets SaveAround track numerous metrics.

Visions FCU in Endwell, N.Y., launched SaveAround in March of this year and has already collected more than 3,000 e-mail addresses. The $3-billion VFCU advertises the daily deals in a banner on its website, and members and non-members can sign up.

AVP-Marketing Jayne Searles said the opportunity to work with local companies-both SaveAround and local merchants-was part of the appeal.

"We've got a website, we want people to visit it-I don't care if they're members or not-and the more people who visit, hopefully someday they'll think of us for that next loan," said Searles.

Visions offers both local and national deals for members that may be located outside of the credit union's local community.

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