RICHLAND, Wash.-Gesa Credit Union has signed on as one of the first financial institutions in the nation to use Acculynk's Payzura, a secured person-to-person (P2P) payment solution that provides members with the ability to transfer funds via an e-mail address or mobile phone number.

"Gesa had been evaluating other P2P service providers, but upon our management team's research regarding Acculynk's service features, ease of use by consumers, and transaction processing speed, the decision to move forward was easy to make," said Gesa Credit Union's Chief Financial Officer, Jim Sheehy. "We take pride in our ability to evaluate newly available technologies, and to quickly implement those that improve operational efficiency and service quality for our members.

"Credit unions often can be faster than the big banks, which gives us an upper hand when it comes to new technologies," added Sheehy.

The Good Funds Model

Senior Vice President and General Manager of Payzur Acculynk's P2P division, John Kerley, said members should have little difficulty with the solution. "It simply requires the same PIN that the member would use at the ATM machine, allowing members to begin using it right away with no annoying enrollment. It works on a good funds model making the payment as good as cash or a cashier's check."

With more than 350 employees, $1.2 billion in assets, 10 branches and 110,000 members, Gesa CU is one of the largest credit unions in the state of Washington. Sheehy said the concept was an easy sell to C-level executives and members who increasingly see the use of checks as antiquated. He added that a fee of up to $1 will be charged to members using the new P2P service.

"The price per transaction for our members is initially being set at the minimum necessary to cover our costs, and we will have a better idea regarding how well this service is valued by our members after the pilot," said Sheehy. "Gesa's goal here is not to make money, but rather to provide an efficient, easy-to-use funds transfer service that enhances our multi-channeled delivery offerings for our membership."

Members can use the solution by downloading an app to their smartphone or accessing the Internet. Members then enter a PIN via the PaySecure patented online graphical PIN pad, explained Kerley.

The solution is not ACH-based and does not require enrollment or a waiting period. There is no middleman between Acculynk and the credit union. As such, the credit union contracts directly with the company, which is betting that most financial institutions will also choose a private label service. The Austin, Texas-based Crystal Clear Payments recently joined as a channel partner, a move that will extend Payzur's consumer base.

"I have spent a large part of my career focused on serving credit unions and we have created a product and a value proposition that will appeal to both credit unions and their membership," said Kerley, who has held senior positions at some pretty diverse credit unions geographically, including Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Hawaii State FCU and Bank of Hawaii.

Not Just For Younger Members

Sheehy said the new product offering is not being targeted at a younger demographic, but instead the entire membership. User statistics are not yet available.

"Smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, and our members across all demographic groups and age categories are increasingly using Gesa's mobile banking services. We are seeing many seniors using smartphones for banking and even in our branches to check Facebook or do other things while waiting on line. Whether the member is a senior citizen or college student, they will be able transfer funds quickly and easily, 24/7 regardless of where they are, just by knowing the recipient's e-mail address or mobile phone number."

Gesa's product introduction is part of a wave of credit unions racing to catch up in the P2P space. Other credit unions have also been expanding their menus as fast as solutions providers can roll out services.

CO-OP Financial Services and The Members Group have each separately published white papers in recent months outining steps to take and sharing strategies and pitfalls related to various aspects of payments, including P2P. Brian Day of TMG's Dwolla noted, for instance, P2P must be based on three factors: experience, branding and ease of integration.

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