As usual, Apple was at the forefront of people’s conversations last month when it rolled out Apple Pay. This new payment technology allows consumers to make in-store purchases with a single touch of their phone. That is, assuming the financial institution and the retailer both agree to support it. There is already controversy over which retailers will and will not accept Apple Pay, and most of it is surrounding payment fees and the need for new POS platforms.Another example of a relatively new technology is mobile banking apps. They have been on the market for about six years, yet many smaller credit unions are still wondering whether they should offer one. As a large investment of time and money, new tech concepts take time to fully diffuse. With all new technology, there will always be early adopters who are willing and able to begin using it immediately. On the other hand, not everyone is interested in changing their habits.One thing we can all agree on is that if a new form of technology is going to directly affect the way our members do their banking, we must be behind it 100%. When considering implementing new technology for your credit union, remember to ask the following questions:Is it something members want? You know your members like you know your own family. Rather than making assumptions on what they expect from you, go ahead and ask. Do they plan to use mobile payments? Do they want the option to check their balance on their phones? Do they own a smartphone in the first place? Their answers will help determine your plan.What new feature does it introduce? A new technology will add value to your credit union by offering members something they did not have access to previously. It is smart to differentiate what can be communicated through existing channels, and what would be better suited to an app, for example.Does it solve a real problem? “Gone are the days of searching for your wallet,” says Apple of its new payment system. But have your members expressed this as a problem? As Matt Davis of CU Water Cooler, gameFI and 6th Story asked following Money 20/20 – are they unhappy with the payment system as is? Perhaps the real problem at hand is data security, easy account access or otherwise.Is it easy to use? Technology is meant to simplify. Whether it is an app, a mobile website, a new payment method or some other change, it must provide a simple and streamlined user experience. Remember that members have varying degrees of technological expertise, so your continued education and support is important as well.Will it impact the community? Some big-box retailers are already opposing Apple Pay, and local businesses may follow suit. As an integral part of your community and your members’ lives, locally owned businesses are important to the decisions you make in-branch.At Buzz Points, we recently launched an updated version of our mobile app, based on direct feedback from our cardholders. When building the app, our goal was not only to improve the user experience for consumers, but also to support our local businesses and the communities where they reside. Buzz Points is a merchant-funded rewards program that partners with credit unions to encourage debit card use and shopping locally. Cardholders earn points for every transaction, even those made electronically through a system like Apple Pay, should you decide it is right for your members.Your members are your most important asset. A new technology is an investment and an extension of your credit union. Therefore, be sure to ask the proper questions when considering a new technology.In addition to the tech resources you have in place, Buzz Points can offer members a mobile presence and more. To learn more about Buzz Points, visit buzzpoints.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Emily Gasper Emily Gasper is a strategic communication and marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. Before joining Buzz Points, Emily was a Marketing Assistant at the Anthropologie home office in Philadelphia, and … Web: buzzpoints.com Details
Read more agency year in review blog posts.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf By: Teresa Miller, Insurance Commissioner SHARE Email Facebook Twitter BLOG: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Consumers January 13, 2016 Efficiency, Government That Works, The Blog, Year in Review Since taking office, Governor Wolf and I have set consumer protection as the Insurance Department’s top priority. A big part of helping consumers is letting them know that we are here as a resource for them, and under Governor Wolf’s direction, we have substantially increased our consumer outreach.There were many times throughout 2015 where Governor Wolf and I took an active stand in order to put consumers first and protect them from future harm.Keeping Rates LowI’m also very proud of the work done by my department in reviewing individual and small group health insurance rates this year to ensure that we balanced the needs of the companies involved without placing too much burden on consumers through drastic rate increases. My department was able to save Pennsylvania’s consumers nearly $81 million – an outcome that wasn’t the case in all other states. I’m glad we can tell that story here.CHIPShortly after taking office, we addressed an issue where families enrolled in the full-cost CHIP program were facing tax penalties, because these plans did not meet minimum essential coverage standards dictated by the Affordable Care Act. We worked quickly to bring these plans up to MEC standards and obtained waivers so these families would avoid the tax penalty. Under the direction of Governor Wolf, we brought the remaining CHIP plans up to MEC standards so that more than 150,000 Pennsylvania children enrolled in the program could enjoy improved benefits and coverage standards.Highmark/UPMCThe Insurance Department is also continuing to play a role in protecting consumers affected by the consent decrees signed by Highmark and UPMC in 2014. My department supported Governor Wolf’s decision to go to court in order to protect the access of more than 180,000 seniors in western Pennsylvania to the doctors and hospitals of their choice, by requiring UPMC to stay in Highmark’s Medicare Advantage program, consistent with the terms of the consent decrees.Saving Consumers MoneyAway from the health side, we’ve taken a stand against unfair pricing tactics like the “widow’s penalty” and price optimization – a practice that occurs when insurers consider factors unrelated to expected losses and expenses, such as a customer’s likelihood to shop around for a better price, when setting rates. I issued notices to insurers to remind them that these practices are unfairly discriminatory and my department will not authorize rates that impose costs where additional risk can’t be proven.We’re also continuing to pursue other consumer protection issues, including surprise balance billing, which occurs when patients receive a bill for a service received at an in-network facility with an in-network provider but encounter an out-of-network provider at some point during care.What’s Next?These accomplishments demonstrate the Wolf Administration’s strong commitment to putting consumers first through increasing access to health insurance, ensuring consumers are treated fairly by companies, and educating the public on issues so consumers have the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.As we move into 2016, we’re going to continue to focus on finding solutions to issues that affect consumers every day.Find Us OnlineOver the summer, we revamped the Insurance Department website to make it much more user-friendly, and we’re making good use of this new platform to reach and educate consumers. We regularly update it with consumer alerts focused on seasonal tips or issues we hear of from consumers, and we’re producing more educational content, such as our videos and shopper’s guide to using and purchasing health insurance, to help consumers make educated and empowered choices.We’ve also joined social media, so head over to Facebook.com/PAInsuranceDepartment or follow us on Twitter @PAInsuranceDept.We’re going to work to become a more visible force in communities around the commonwealth. I want Pennsylvania consumers to know that we’re here as a resource and to connect with consumers in their own environments, and I strongly encourage you to contact us if you have any issues or concerns via our Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388 or through our contact form at insurance.pa.gov
The man who stabbed tennis champion Petra Kvitova in her home in the Czech Republic has been sentenced to eight years in jail.Radim Zondra, 33, went to her flat in 2016 saying he needed to inspect the boiler. He then grabbed Kvitova from behind and held a knife to her throat.She suffered severe wounds to her left hand in the fight to free herself but returned to tennis five months later.Appearing at a regional court in Brno, Zondra denied all charges against him.Zondra, who is currently serving a prison sentence for another crime, was convicted of serious battery and illegal entry into Kvitova’s apartment.The 29-year-old player, who is currently the world number two, told the courtlast month there was “blood all over the place” after the December 2016 attack. She added that she had offered Zondra money to leave, eventually giving him 10,000 Czech crowns (£341; $440). The court has ordered him to pay this back.In her judgment, Judge Dagmar Bordovska said Kvitova’s testimony was credible, while witnesses who testified on behalf of Zondra were unreliable, CTK news agency reports.Although Zondra denied ever being in the tennis star’s home, prosecutors argued that DNA evidence and the positive identification from Kvitova meant he was guilty beyond all doubt.The two-time Wimbledon champion suffered damage to ligaments and tendons in her playing hand, and underwent a four-hour surgery.Doctors warned her at the time that her tennis career could be over and that she may even lose her fingers. Kvitova had to have surgery on her playing hand after the attack in December 2016However she returned to tennis in May 2017, following months of rehabilitation, and continued her successful career.Earlier this year she reached the Australian Open final, and is now in the US competing in the Miami Open. She will face Ashleigh Barty in the quarter-finals later on Tuesday.