Connex CU’s Christopher Whalen Voted CO-OP Think Prize 14 Winner

The $10,000 award was presented by CO-OP and sponsor MasterCard.

May 23, 2014

Christopher Whalen (middle) of Connex CU was awarded the $10,000 CO-OP THINK Prize 14. Whalen is flanked by Caroline Willard, EVP, markets and strategy, for conference sponsor CO-OP Financial Services; and Chris Ensley, senior account manager, Strategic Partners, for award sponsor MasterCard.

Christopher Whalen of Connex Credit Union, North Haven, Conn., is the winner of the CO-OP THINK Prize 14 and recipient of $10,000 for his idea for “Mobile One: A Complete Financial Solution.”

CO-OP Financial Services and CO-OP THINK Prize 14 sponsor MasterCard presented the $10,000 award to Whalen, Connex's marketing and e-services specialist.

During the course of the conference in New Orleans, Whalen and two other finalists presented their ideas to attendees, and Whalen was announced the winner during the conference’s final general session on May 22.

As Whalen explained the idea to the judges in his business plan, “MobileOne will be an exciting new mobile platform that provides a complete financial solution for credit union members across the country. MobileOne will make mobile banking truly mobile banking. (The vision is) to consolidate fragmented mobile solutions from within and outside the credit union industry into one platform.”

The two other finalists were:

  • Sanam Kazi, project coordinator; Chicago Patrolmen’s FCU,  for “Customizable Website for Financial Education to Credit Union Members;” and
  • Brett Wooden, senior vice president of marketing and information technology; Cy Fair FCU, Houston, for “Embrace a Child’s Imagination to Develop Financial Literacy.”

Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services congratulated all three finalists.

“Our goal with the CO-OP THINK Prize is to promote and inspire creative thinking on industry issues, and each of the three final business plans were wonderful displays of that,” Hollen said.

The business plans of CO-OP THINK Prize entrants can take any form – such as an innovative application of technology, a new process for back office efficiency, or a fresh approach to industry advertising and marketing.

Though the ideas can vary widely, the judging criteria for entries are based on four main standards–impact, creativity, aggregation (the application of the idea across the industry), and implementation (the ability to be adopted quickly). The three CO-OP THINK Prize finalists were selected by judges from CO-OP Financial Services and the Filene Research Institute.

The final decision on the winner was based on the voting of the judges, online voters, and that of registered THINK 14 attendees.