Foundation Grant Helps Express Credit Union Break Barriers in Reaching Unbanked

Express Credit Union believes a grant from the Washington Credit Union Foundation (WCUF) for improved technology is breaking down barriers to financial services for low-income and un-banked consumers.

The credit union received a $5,000 Northwest Legacy Grant from the WCUF in August and already reports its remote member service representatives (CMSRs) are able to serve members in community colleges, hospitals and shelters who had previously been inaccessible.

Express Credit Union’s mission is to provide financial access and services to people of low and moderate income, helping them to build assets and achieve financial stability.

CMSRs are dispatched with their laptop computers to social service agencies and community centers to work directly with consumers on things like opening accounts, transferring funds and processing loan applications. Prior to using the Foundation grant to make a technology improvement, the CMSRs had to log into their laptops through encryption software, log into a VPN through a firewall, eventually tunneling into the Express server and member database. Just getting a secure login took at least 20 minutes, and CMSRs were often knocked offline during the process, requiring a reboot.

Express requested the Foundation’s Legacy Grant to convert from virtual private network (VPN) technology to a terminal service gateway. Express staff, IT professionals and TechSoup worked together to complete the conversion. The improved technology has reduced the login and wait time by 90 percent, giving the CMSRs more time to educate and coach.

“Express Credit Union and Express Advantage express their thanks to the Washington Credit Union Foundation,” said Sharon Hall, Express CEO, who added that the grant helped the credit union “to serve our members more efficiently through the use of sound technology.”

The deadline to apply for WCUF grants during Cycle 3 has been extended to Friday, Nov. 4. Credit unions interested in applying can do so using the WCUF’s online application form. Grants are awarded based on both merit and need and are screened by WCUF staff prior to being presented to the Grants Committee.

 

Questions? Contact Foundation Development Associate Josalyn Alston: 206.340.4814, jalston@nwcua.org.

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