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September 20, 2012

GUEST POST: Innovation Unveiled In The Big Apple

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Alix Patterson is the chief operating officer of Callahan & Associates and serves on Callahan’s board of directors. She oversees Callahan’s media division and leads strategic planning sessions for credit unions. 

In this article, which originally ran on CreditUnions.com, Alix shares her thoughts about DigitalMailer's My Virtual StrongBox product - and her thoughts on the only company to present at FinovateFall 2012 that has direct ties to the credit union industry.

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Could you deliver all the information needed to set your institution apart from its peers in seven minutes or less? Could you trust your services, people, and products to perform in a live demo scenario, with all the movers and shakers of the financial industry looking on?

That was the challenge for presenters at last week’s New York Finovate conference. These individuals braved a judgmental Twittersphere (the caffeine was flowing freely) as well as technical issues at the venue to share their dreams with potential venture capitalists and financial institution partners.

While credit unions from across the country were in attendance, the second day of Finovate brought the only credit union-owned presenter - Virginia-based DigitalMailer - to the stage. There, CEO Ron Daly showcased the company’s latest product innovation, MyVirtual Strong Box. This solution lets consumers store personal records virtually with the financial institutions they already trust, instead of relying on third-parties whose usage and ownership policies could be a future point of contention.

My Virtual StrongBox integrates with a financial institution’s home banking platform, providing the first layer of security for members wary of using "the cloud" to store their personal documents. Then, My Virtual StrongBox encrypts each individual file as it is uploaded, ensuring that information will only be unlocked by the uploading party.

From the financial institution side, My Virtual StrongBox looks to be not only a retention tool but a potential revenue generator as well.

Credit unions can deploy a freemium business model with My Virtual StrongBox. By offering an initial amount of storage and then letting members upgrade for a fee, credit unions can generate new non-interest income.  Both Northwest FCU and DCU launched the product with an initial offering of 100MB free and members have already started to upgrade after hitting their maximum space allotment.

In good Finovate-fashion, Ron and his team also unveiled a brand new iPad version of the service, featuring all the capabilities of the regular offering in portable, intuitive tablet interface. 

DigitalMailer’s presentation provided a great reminder that credit unions and CUSOs are often at the leading edge of financial innovation. With any luck, next year’s conference will feature even more cooperative institutions bringing their big ideas into the limelight.

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This article appeared originally on CreditUnions.com and is the intellectual property of CALLAHAN & ASSOCIATES. No part may be reproduced, transmitted, distributed, published, or otherwise com­municated, in printed form or electronically, without the express written permission of CALLAHAN & ASSOCIATES.  

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