Posted by Emily Maxie, Marketing Director, SIGNiX, Inc. on 4/17/2014

Credit unions all over the country are seeing the benefits of e-signatures—increased member satisfaction, online lending and efficiency. But if you’ve started looking for an e-signature vendor, you probably know how confusing the process can be. You don’t just need a vendor that will make it easy to sign online, you also need someone that will keep your members’ personal information safe.

picking e-signature vendorEvery vendor says you can trust them, but how do you know who to believe? The only way to really know how to pick an e-signature vendor is to know the right questions to ask. John Harris, an e-signature expert and our very own director of product management, suggests that credit unions ask these three questions to pick a secure and compliant e-signature vendor.

1. What options will I have to prove the identity of my signers?

When you’re dealing with account openings and loan applications, it’s important to know who’s signing your documents. This is even more important when someone is signing remotely. That’s why some e-signature vendors offer a feature called “identity authentication.

Here are some of the options for identifying your signers:

  • Email Authentication: The signer gets an email with a secure link to access and sign the document. The fact that they’re able to access the email is seen as a very basic way of proving their identity. This is a low cost option that should only be used for low-risk transactions or in situations where you know and trust the signer. 
  • Shared Secret Questions: This type of authentication lets you pick a question to ask signers based on some information you already know about them. Many credit unions use this type of authentication to ask members their account number or the name of the branch where they opened their account. 
  • Cell Phone Authentication: This method sends a unique code via text message to the signer’s cell phone. This is a popular choice for credit unions because it’s easy and members love it—after all, most of your members already take their phones with them everywhere.
  • Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA): If you’re dealing with a high-value or high-risk transaction, KBA authentication is the way to go. Signers are asked to enter their date of birth and social security number, and then they’re prompted with a set of multiple-choice questions pulled from a database of 30 years of public records. Questions could be “What year was the Jeep you owned in 1987?” or “Which North Carolina county have you lived in?”

It’s important to pick an e-signature vendor that lets you change the authentication for each person in the transaction. For example, you might already know and trust your employees, so you could set their authentication level to be “email only.” But if you have members or members’ spouses signing remotely, you might want to use a higher level of identity authentication.

2. How will my documents be protected against tampering?

It seems like every day you hear about another financial institution suffering a data breach or digital security flaw. In the past, someone would have to break into your branch to tamper with your members’ signed documents. But today, an advanced hacker could access your documents without stepping foot in your offices. That’s why you need to make sure your documents are protected against tampering. 

Some e-signature vendors offer a feature called “tamper evidence,” which can protect your documents from hackers and fraudsters alike. This feature alerts you if anyone makes even a small change to the document. 

You should pick an e-signature vendor that protects your documents throughout the signing process—not just at the end. Some vendors only secure the document from tampering after everyone has signed. This leaves you open to risk because the second signer could change the terms of the agreement after someone has already signed the document.

SIGNiX adds a tamper-evident seal to the document with each signature and initial applied to the document, which means you don’t need to worry about in-transit tampering. We also offer a Signature History feature that can show you an image of what the document looked like when it was signed. This helps to protect you if someone ever claims, “It didn’t look like that when I signed it.”

3. What happens to my signed documents if I switch vendors?

This is definitely the most important question, and many credit unions overlook it. Most of our competitors prove documents are authentic (they haven’t been tampered with) by giving you a link back to their website. That might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually critically important for your credit union.

If someone ever challenges one of your documents in court, you’ll need evidence to prove the document is authentic. If you use a company that only links back to their own website to give you legal evidence, you’re putting your credit union at risk.

What if the e-signature vendor gets acquired, goes out of business or changes their technology? What if they raise their prices and you don’t want to use their services anymore? Because the evidence isn’t contained in the document, it doesn’t belong to you—it belongs to the vendor.

If you try to get the legal evidence in one of those situations (or even without an Internet connection), all you'll get is a message saying "404 Error – Web Site Not Found." I’ve seen enough episodes of Law & Order to know that would get ripped apart by an attorney in court.

In contrast, the legal evidence for SIGNiX’s e-signatures belongs to your credit union because they’re based on standards. All of the information you’d need to prove a document in court is contained within each signed document, and you can easily view it using any free PDF reader software.

That means you don't have to be a SIGNiX customer or even be connected to the Internet to prove your documents are authentic. You can see who signed, when they signed and if the document has been tampered with after signing without even leaving the document.

This is essential because, as anyone who ever used a Blackberry knows, technology changes incredibly quickly. If you base your credit union’s business on a specific technology rather than published standards, you're putting your credit union at risk. In fact, you’d be safer continuing to use paper processes than to use a vendor that doesn't embed standards-based signatures with every signature and initial into your signed documents. Yes, using is a lot more expensive and less efficient than e-signatures, but that would be better than using a technology that puts your credit union at risk.

If you keep these three questions in mind, you can be sure you pick an e-signature vendor that you'll be happy with—not just today but decades down the road.  

Get a credit union e-signature case study

Categories: Business Partners, Remote Transaction, Technology Consulting & Compliance
Posted by Norma Garza, AVP Remote Transaction Resources, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 4/16/2014

In preparing to write today’s blog, I was taken back to a school assignment I recently completed pertaining to Google Inc. and its’ competitive advantage. While Google Inc., a globally recognized internet company, has its’ humble beginnings rooted in the world of search engine optimizers (SEOs), its short 15 years of existence brought about a world-wide recognized brand coupled with the very term “Google” inducted into the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Colligate Dictionary in June and July 2006, respectively.   Google, Inc. was founded by a couple of Stanford University grads, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, with a vision and a mission simply known as, “…to organize the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful”. 

In addition they have a philosophy founded on “the ten things they know to be true”.   A philosophy, according to Google Inc., that management visits on a consistent basis and is used as the barometer to manage and conduct business for the ultimate goal of meeting the end users’ needs.  As such, their growth came about by word of mouth as more and more users begin to realize and compare the speed and accuracy of Google’s search engine capability. And what’s even more impressive is the fact that they didn’t even have direct contact with the end user.

Fast forward 15 years and not only has Google sustained its’ ability to remain one of the top, if not, the top SEO leaders but it has grown into a company with many, many facets; and facets all revolving around the digital world of the internet.  Bottom line the very notion of simply wanting to make life easier for the end user is what makes this company the success that it is today. Albeit they positioned themselves on solid financial footing early on based on their advertising strategy which resulted in the lucrative financial position to innovate, test the waters  and expand their services into the likes of Google Chrome, Google Map, Gmail, and YouTube, to name a few.  And the preceding expansions were made possible because of the innovative culture within organization. 

Although Google Inc. is a global company, it is interesting to learn that this hugely complex and impressive international company has never wavered from its’ principle mission and philosophy and at every turn has remained true to ultimately serving the end user more efficiently and effectively.   That said the takeaways from this project have been the realization of:

1)      First and foremost the most important of their “ten things they know to be true”, which is “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

2)      Utilizing partnerships that enhance and promote the company’s values, mission and vision towards end user convenience, access, and loyalty.

3)      Ensuring that employees utilize products and services for first-hand knowledge of needs, wants, desires in products/services.

4)      Promoting employee innovation and creativity.

At this point you may be wondering and asking, “…why a blog on Google Inc. it’s not a very applicable topic?” I would response by saying that the takeaways are definitely applicable. In addition, I would recommend taking note of Google Wallet. As a mobile app Google Wallet is gaining ground.  Google’s ability to partner up directly with retailers, e.g., Macy’s, FootLocker, Walgreens, Toys R US, The Container Store, and Subway to name a few afford both parties the opportunity to offer convenience and access to their loyal base.    

Are you prepared to give up any more of your member’s wallet share?

Categories: Business Partners, Remote Transaction, Sales & Service, Strategic Planning & Consulting, Technology Consulting & Compliance
Posted by Mr. Howard Bufe, AVP, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 4/14/2014

The planning process begins with evaluating your credit union’s purpose, core values and clearing away any limiting emotional blocks.  Once this is done, you can proceed with the remainder of the planning process.  You must base your planning on knowledge of the industry, including an analysis of future trends.  It is therefore essential to conduct an environmental scan at the onset of this process.

The environmental scan is perhaps the most important element of any strategic planning process.  Without developing a good understanding of the current marketplace and future trends, any planning process may well miss the mark.  You may not understand member needs well enough, and your products and services may well be outdated, obsolete, or irrelevant.  Gaining knowledge of your industry’s market trends will provide a strong foundation upon which to build your organization’s future success.

Planning requires that you create a vision based on market trends, and then set goals and objectives to make that vision a reality.  Leaders cannot plan everything by themselves.  They must be able to work with a team of people to communicate their vision to others in a way that inspires them to follow their lead and set reachable goals that will lead to the credit union’s future success.  Vision in a credit union implies action.  It should not be stagnant or fixed; rather, it must motivate people to move the credit union forward.

Your next step is to prioritize your goals and objectives.  At this point it’s also very important to perform a reality check.  No credit union can do all things or be all things to all people.  It is therefore very important to prioritize the goals and objectives based on the following factors:

  1. Do they advance the credit union toward its vision?
  2. Are they doable in the time frame allotted?
  3. Is there enough talent available to execute the plan?
  4. Are there enough resources available during the allotted time period to support the activities?

Assess your commitment.  Commitment starts at the top of the credit union.  If the leaders are not dedicated to the credit union’s goals and objectives, it is unlikely that staff members will follow and execute the strategic plan in a timely manner.  Those who guide the credit union must convey its mission, vision, and core values on a regular basis to make sure everyone knows why the credit union is in business, where it is aiming to go, and what it values.

If your credit union seems to lack focus, it’s your job as the leader to determine if you need to remove any distractions.  Is your planning time frame too long?  Are too many goals and objectives diluting the ultimate goal?  Are there too many or too few people on the execution team?  If, for any reason, staff members don’t believe that the goal is attainable, they will most likely give up on it – and move on to something they feel they can realistically accomplish.

The leader must prepare and motivate staff members to endure adversity and weather difficult times.  If they don’t receive adequate encouragement, people may give up because the odds seem overwhelming.  You need to determine what your people can – and cannot – reasonably accomplish.  You also need to be the cheerleader who provides support to your team when things are moving more slowly than anticipated, and keep passion alive for the end vision.  Establishing a process of renewal will also help your credit union stay in it for the long haul.

The ultimate goal of the planning process is to create a healthy credit union that is committed to its purpose and core values and has the following characteristics.

  • A strong credit union identity that provides service to others.
  • Passion that is felt throughout the credit union.
  • A compelling vision with workable long-range goals and objectives.
  • A culture that develops people and values physical assets.
  • A renewal process in place to enable perseverance during difficult times.

Finally, it’s critical to assess your perseverance!  According to Webster’s Dictionary, to persevere means “to persist in the pursuit of an end or enterprise undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.”

All of this will ultimately produce results and lasting success.

Categories: Strategic Planning & Consulting
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