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|Clockwise: Nader Moghaddam, CEO of Financial Partners CU and Chairman of the National Credit Union Roundtable; Joe Brancucci, CEO of GTE Financial; Eli Mohamad, CEO of Walkmore; and George Hofheimer, Chief Research and Innovation Officer for Filene Research Institute|
“We have a lot of retirees in Florida, but we also have a very young, fit population as well,” said Joe Brancucci, CEO of Tampa Bay-headquartered GTE FCU, which re-branded itself as GTE Financial in 2012. “In California you have similar positives. People want to be fit and healthy, especially baby boomers. There’s a whole culture around it.”
In January, GTE Financial implemented a pilot project that was originally conceived by Singularity University researchers and tested with credit unions in Texas, Washington, Iowa, and Canada. The team was commissioned by the National Credit Union Roundtable (NCUR) in 2012 to help develop a forward-looking roadmap for increasing credit unions’ value to society. Filene Research Institute in Madison, WI, managed the project, named “Jumiya,” which means “union” in Swahili.
Funded by six California credit unions—and 41 others across the nation, as well as five state credit union leagues—the study’s results show that when individuals are healthier, they’re less likely to slide into delinquency, default, or bankruptcy.
“This could be attractive for a number of credit unions, but it would probably have to fit within a credit union’s overall alignment and strategy,” said Nader Moghaddam, CEO of Financial Partners CU and chairman of NCUR, a group of the largest U.S. credit unions that spearheaded the project’s inception. “At our credit union, we’re certainly exploring possible implementation.”
He said a national announcement with specifics on how credit unions can apply the Jumiya concept is coming sometime in 2014.
Keeping financial difficulties at bay is where the heart of GTE Financial’s “Get Fit” program comes into play. Members can use a smartphone app to track how much they walk every day, merging the results into their account online. They can redeem “steps” for rewards, so more steps equal more incentives, such as special coupons to local businesses or cash.
“In January and February, our members logged 78.7 million steps, or about 39,350 miles,” Brancucci said. “We’re also trying to attract a younger set of members with this. So far, they think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread.”
Although “Get Fit” was created to add value to current members, the program is attracting new members almost daily.
As of March, GTE Financial was the only credit union in the country officially rolling out a customized version for its members with the help of Walkmore, a company headquartered at NASA Research Park near Mountain View, CA, and located on the same campus as Singularity University.
To read the full story and gain a deeper look at what “Jumiya” revealed to credit unions, click here!