Community Alliance Credit Union completes merger with FNS core bank upgrade


Wollongong based Illawarra Credit Union and Sydney based Unicom Credit Union have successfully combined their operations to form Community Alliance Credit Union - serving more than 50,000 members through 16 branches and 40 ATMs in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Illawarra region.

The merger was completed over the weekend of May 30, 2004 with the launch of a new 'BANCSR' core banking system, which went live this week.

The go-live of the new banking system was a major triumph for Community Alliance, which has pioneered a different business model for credit unions to operate in the increasingly competitive retail banking sector, according to Community Alliance Chief Executive Officer, Michael Halloran.

"Community Alliance is special in that it is one Credit Union with two brands - enabling each entity to share resources and achieve far greater economies of scale, while continuing to provide personal, individualised services to their respective members," Mr Halloran said.

The dual-branded model has been made possible by technology provided by global banking solutions provider, Financial Network Services (FNS) of Sydney, which originally provided its BANCS platform to Illawarra Credit Union in 1999, to replace an aging banking system.

The state of the art BANCS platform combines fully integrated Retail, Internet Banking, Credit Card and Branch Automation applications with multi-branding functionality. This enables customers of either credit union to perform transactions at the branches and ATMS of either credit union and receive their own branded receipts and online statements from the credit union to which they belong.

Financial Network Services Managing Director, Tony Ward, said the state of the art BANCS solution developed for Community Alliance was a collaborative effort by FNS and Illawarra Credit Union, building on the inherent features of the recently upgraded 2004 BANCS platform.

"All customisation and testing was completed ahead of schedule and within budget. This is testimony to the staff working on this project and the advanced features supported by BANCS."

Meanwhile, John Vohradsky, Community Alliance Senior Manager Operations says the merger is more than just a technical achievement; the co-branded model offered by Community Alliance provides a blueprint for possible future mergers.

"Under the merger, Unicom gains the benefit of Community Alliance's larger balance sheet, along with greater job security for their employees and access to modern facilities at Community Alliance's head office in Wollongong, including our state of the art IT infrastructure, which is at the heart of the services enjoyed by members of each credit union.

"And by combining our marketing efforts, branch networks, computer systems and back-office processes, each credit union can provide a superior service offering at a lower cost per member.

"We expect to attract other like-minded credit unions that value their brand, their independence and identity but want to cost effectively expand their branch and ATM networks by using our model," Mr Vohradsky said.

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