ECCU Staffer’s Idea to Help Members May Be a Winner

BREA, California—Matt Weidler’s job title doesn’t tell you much about what he does. As an “IT asset coordinator” at Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU), Matt manages computer hardware and software policies and licensing and a whole lot more. It’s what he thinks about at work, though, that has attracted some attention recently.

Matt thinks about how to do things better. After thinking of a new idea last year, he heard about something called the CO-OP THINK PRIZE. CO-OP Financial Services provides CO-OP Network, the nationwide network of 28,000 ATMs, 9,000 of which take deposits, that ECCU members can use without being charged a fee.

“We created the CO-OP THINK PRIZE to inspire innovative approaches to the issues confronting the credit union movement” said Stan Hollen, President/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, California. “We knew we would get great ideas.”

Hundreds of ideas were submitted, and three have been chosen as finalists, including Matt’s. His idea is for credit union members to access an ATM with their cell phone instead of a debit card. That way, if they forget their card, they can still transact their banking business.

How did Matt think of this? As with so many good ideas, out of necessity.

“Every day when I get to work, I lock my keys and wallet in my desk because it hurts my back to sit with them in my pockets all day. Most days that’s not a problem, but every Thursday is laundry day, and I have to walk to the ATM on my break to get $20 that I can turn into quarters for the laundromat. Too many times I was halfway to the ATM before I realized I didn’t have my wallet in my pocket, just my cell phone and Chapstick®. On one of many trips back to my desk I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could somehow use my phone to get cash out of the ATM?’ Once I’d posed the question, I couldn’t help trying to prove how it was impossible. But the harder I tried, the more I realized how possible it really could be.”

There’s an incentive for coming up with good ideas like Matt’s. The “prize” is $10,000. But the money isn’t for the winner. It’s offered as seed money to help the winner bring the idea to reality for the benefit of his or her credit union and the entire credit union movement.

Matt and the other finalists will present their ideas at the THINK 11 Conference at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, California on Tuesday, May 17. Voting will be conducted by a panel of judges from CO-OP Financial Services and the Filene Research Institute, as well as registered conference attendees. In addition, credit union industry employees can view online videos featuring the entries and cast votes at www.co-opthink.org from April 15 to May 6. The winner will be announced during the conference’s awards gala the evening of May 17.