Latest Debit Issuer Study Finds Credit Unions Can Benefit from “New Normal”

Guest post written by Steve Sievert, Executive Vice President, PULSE Network. Steve brings the debit issuer study to life in this free webinar »


Discover Financial Services is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for PULSE Network Debit Card Programs and Debit Networks.

Credit unions are experiencing a “new normal” in the debit business, even though most are not bound by the interchange cap imposed by Regulation II. Despite some downward pressure on interchange rates and increased caution throughout the financial services industry, credit unions have competitive advantages when it comes to growing their debit card portfolios.

In the 2013 Debit Issuer Study commissioned by PULSE, we found that issuers continue to grow their debit volumes even in the face of significant regulatory changes. Fraud continues to be a challenge, but issuers are seeing success in mitigating fraudulent activities. And many are looking beyond classic demand deposit accounts with debit cards to other means of expanding their payments businesses.

Read more

National Financial Literacy Month is a Chance to Start Good Habits

Originally posted on

This article references a study done by Discover, the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Debit Card Programs and Debit Networks.

It’s no coincidence that National Financial Literacy Month falls in April, the height of tax season. It seems like there are some teachable moments to be found while scrutinizing every financial decision of the past year. Tax preparation reminds me of holiday get-togethers where the family examines every bad idea everyone has ever had. But doing your taxes shouldn’t be like judgment day at the Santos dinner table. By developing good financial habits, especially at a younger age, managing your money can be a breeze.

National Financial Literacy Month is recognized as an opportunity to promote good financial habits through savings, smart purchases, and long-term personal financial planning to meet one’s life goals. Sound familiar? This is what credit unions do every day, of every month. Credit unions have a long history of helping their members make effective financial choices by offering better service, low fees, and financial education. Tools such as, NAFCU Services’ credit union locator website, offer personal finance calculators covering topics such as home buying, saving, borrowing, retirement and auto financing (also available free of charge for NAFCU Members to use on their websites). The site also includes links to personal financial education resources.

Read more

What’s Happening to Debit?

I’ve always felt a little guilty when I used my debit card to pay for something like gum at a gas station. Surely, most “normal” people carry enough cash around for small purchases like that; the cashier must be secretly laughing at me for having to pull out plastic for such a small purchase. Turns out, I may be much more “normal” in this regard than I first thought.

We hosted a recent webinar with Discover, the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Turnkey Credit, Debit and Prepaid Card Programs, that combed through the 2012 Debit Issuer Study from PULSE, a Discover Financial Services company. According to this study, more consumers are using their debit cards in place of cash, increasing the percentage of debit sales for smaller amounts. The study found that, in 2011, 31% of debit transactions were under $10, 21% were between $10–$20, and 23% were between $20 and $40. Consumers also are using debit more in general. Consumer debit growth in 2011 slightly exceeded issuers’ expectations. For example, for credit unions, 8% growth was projected for 2011 in PIN transactions, and 12% growth was projected for signature transactions. In reality, there was a 9% growth in PIN transactions in 2011 and a 15% growth for signature transactions in 2011. Furthermore, consumer total annual spend for 2011 was 7% higher than total annual spend in 2010. Looks like I’m not the only one who is using my debit card more and more.

Read more

Survey Shows Credit Union Members More Confident in Economy, Personal Finances

Originally published on

It is nice when a survey confirms something you’ve always suspected is true—on the whole, credit union members feel better about the economy when compared to bank customers. It’s also nice to know that all of our efforts with regard to financial literacy are paying off—credit union members are managing their finances better too. Both are especially heartening given all the mixed signals we’ve been getting on the economic recovery.

Our Preferred Partner Discover ( does a survey every month, and the results for the second quarter of 2012 are now available. The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor offers a revealing look into the consumption patterns of consumers. It’s a monthly index of consumer spending and intentions, based on a random sample of 8,200 U.S. adults, of whom 25–40% are credit union members. The findings of the credit union member segment are released quarterly. The latest report provides good news for credit unions: credit union members are more optimistic and have a better handle on their finances than non-members.

Read more

The Best of the Best – 2012 NAFCU Services Innovation Awards

Innovation can be hard to define, but you can think of it as “the successful application of new ideas.”  ‘Application’ is the key word there – new ideas are the easy part – figuring out which are the good ones, and then applying them successfully, is more difficult.

So innovation is more than just an academic exercise or a tally of patents. The application of a new idea in the real world leads to new products, services, processes, systems, or attitudes that improve something or add value. With all of the changes that are occurring in financial services generally, and in the credit union business model specifically, being (and staying) innovative is more important than ever.

Every year at the NAFCU Annual Conference we recognize the very best innovations among our Preferred Partners that help credit unions thrive in an increasingly crowded financial services marketplace with the 2012 NAFCU Services Preferred Partner Innovation Awards.

We had another exceptionally competitive field of entries this year, and the difficult task of judging was undertaken by the NAFCU Services Advisory Committee, which is composed exclusively of credit union executives. I didn’t envy them in the challenge of picking the winners, and greatly appreciate their bringing a real-world perspective to the value offered by the innovations. No surprise as to what is top-of-mind – all three winners have solutions that help credit unions with marketing and growth.

Read more