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NIFCU: Conquer Your Core Conversion Jitters

When Northern Illinois FCU was looking for a new core in 2017, the credit union had a few things on its wish list, and one big one was not to mess with its home banking platform. The credit union loved it, and members loved it, so whatever core they chose, their home banking platform was non-negotiable. That eliminated a lot of cores.


Northern Illinois FCU CEO Mark Lenaway asked the credit union’s home banking provider for recommendations when the credit union began its search, and Prodigy was one of them. Lenaway said the cloud-based core processor was appealing to him, as it doesn’t require in-house servers. He emphasizes that is a huge weight off his credit union, not just for the hard costs but the constant updating. Lenaway points to the modern code, too. “Prodigy is not attempting to run a 1960s technology and just put a happy face on it,” Lenaway said.

The interface is really easy to use, he says, which also meant fewer headaches training existing staff on the new platform, plus new staff is able to get up to speed more quickly. Loan origination offers custom workflows and automations that keep both members and employees happy and humming along through their day. Dashboards help leaders manage credit unions’ loan products the way they see fit. Teller transactions offer photo and ID verification and a holistic view of member account information all in one place.

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The Team at Prodigy truly does listen!

– Northern Illinois FCU, CEO Mark Lenaway

Code's Love Language

The Prodigy core was built in SQL and Java, two of the top coding languages in demand for the last few years.

SQL is the standard for managing databases and is ideal for managing multiple relational database management systems. SQL allows for distinct views of a database for varying purposes, like a loan officer’s view of a member versus a teller’s view.

Java is a platform-independent language that makes for fast development and integrations.

Why Credit Unions Should Consider Cloud-Based Core Processors

Cloud-based core processing is the future of credit union banking. Technology leaders, like Amazon Web Services, investing heavily in this area serves to solidify this statement. In fact, Deloitte found that financial institutions moving to the cloud tripled between 2016 and 2018. A more recent American Banker poll found that cloud computing was a top-five spending priority in 2023 for more than 40% of U.S. bank executives. Adopting cloud technology helps credit unions stay competitive with the flexibility they need, and the services members deserve.

Avoiding The Typical Core Conversion Headaches

At go-time, NIFCU did not experience the dreaded cover conversion hassles that credit union executives share horror stories about. No integration problems. Minimal downtime. Lenaway says the credit union was up and running on the day it was promised and within just a couple of hours.

And since then, NIFCU has not been down at all. With data centers in Salt Lake City and Denver, and the reliability of the cloud data storage, the credit union has disaster recovery and business continuity covered. Prodigy runs disaster recovery testing and reports when the credit union’s examiners come calling.

The CUSO Difference

Lenaway adds that he also liked that Prodigy is a CUSO. The Credit Union Service Organization structure brings out the best in credit union collaboration, he continues to advocate after five years on the Prodigy platform. He points out that some credit unions much larger than his are driving innovation at the core, and once Prodigy develops features and services for others, all of its platform clients are able to access them for free. It is what affords $20.3 million NIFCU the opportunity to provide far superior services to its members than it could offer on its own.

“The team at Prodigy truly does listen,” Lenaway says. While other cores were promising the moon during NIFCU’s search for a new core – and adding to the price tag for each – Prodigy is incredibly transparent about everything. The credit union converted to Prodigy in March 2018.

How Prodigy Helps You Conquer Your Core

Prodigy is one of just a handful of cores to operate in the cloud and is built on modern code. What that means is the CUSO can serve credit unions large and small with an open architecture that allows for scalability and superior integrations at lower costs. It’s browser- and operating system-agnostic making it easy to setup and use. The efficiencies of it all allow Prodigy to offer clear and transparent pricing.

Amber Harsin

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