Some of the latest innovations from the Filene Research Institute, according to Innovation Director Matt Davis, include:
• Mintuition.org. This site evaluates students’ college and career choices based on the expected return on investment, and encourages young people to obtain affordable student loans from credit unions. It’s in response to the astronomic rise in college tuition during the past two decades.
“We wanted to find a way to prevent members from getting ripped off by colleges and universities that charge way too much for tuition,” Davis explains. The tool indexes more than 4,000 schools and 200 career choices, “so you can quickly find out if going to Harvard to become a philosopher is a worthwhile investment.
“Ultimately,” he adds, “we’re trying to advise students on how to pay for school—grants, scholarships, or government loans—and how to fill in the gaps, perhaps with a private student loan at a credit union.”
• CUnited. Described by Davis as “a kind of eHarmony for credit unions,” this tool connects credit union professionals who want to collaborate on certain projects. Users fill out a profile with their interests, such as group purchasing of marketing materials or advertising.
“You’ll find people who are interested in the same sorts of things,” Davis says. “It’s a warm hand-off for you to start a conversation about collaborating with another credit union.”
• HomEase. This tool keeps consumers informed during each step of the mortgage process, which for first-time home buyers can be an anxiety-ridden experience.
At any given point, members can log into the system and see where they are in the process and who’s responsible. There’s also a visual aid: As consumers complete more steps, HomEase shows a house being built.
The idea came about when some i3 group members ordered a pizza from Dominos, which provides a “pizza tracker,” Davis says.
“It tells you that ‘John just took your order’ and ‘Mark is putting on the sauce and cheese,’ ” he explains. “There’s no guessing when the pizza left Dominos and when it will arrive.
“So if Dominos can keep you aware of what’s going on with your pizza, shouldn’t your credit union be able to let you know about the status of your mortgage?”