Getting social with Zag Bank

Zag_Logo_RGB-Mauve_Sign_EnAs Canada’s newest direct bank, Zag Bank’s mandate is to give its brand a compelling voice on social media and to build a social ecosystem that makes it easy for people connect with the brand. We’re happy to say that thirdstream is helping Zag do this by posting, monitoring and then engaging in conversations with their online community. These conversations include everything from assisting with client services inquiries to sharing news and culture.

Our director of social media Kristy Jahn-Smith, who oversees thirdstream’s involvement in Zag Bank’s social engagement, says ‘Zag’s direct banking model is well served by people reaching out through social. It’s a great way to build value in both self-service and peer service’.

It’s also a lot of fun. Jahn-Smith says she loves working in this capacity with Zag. ‘The real time nature of it. Immediate feedback, immediate help. It keeps us on our toes and helps our team to stay very engaged in what’s happening and working in social media engagement.’

Feeling the love

We’d like to congratulate PACE Credit Union on its resounding success at the 2015 MACU Strategic Marketing Conference.

PACE entered its Feels Like Love campaign for adjudication in the 25th annual Achievement in Marketing Excellence (AIME) awards. Not only did PACE receive an AIM award for New Product Launch, they also received the most coveted award of the evening – the People’s Choice Award.

Congratulations to Dan Coldwell and the rest of the marketing team at PACE. We loved working on this creative campaign with you and we applaud your accomplishments and your vision.

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what Canada’s leading AML expert has to say about risk, compliance and online account opening

Many of you have shared that one of your key concerns around online member acquisition is risk and compliance. You’ve also asked us to tell you more about how cumulus™ – our online onboarding solution gets such big results while at the same time meeting FINTRAC and AML compliance.

We get it. Facilitating the opening of accounts online is rapidly emerging as a primary requirement. It needs to tick every box. It makes sense that people need added reassurance that all barriers are removed and that compliance and regulation bases are covered.

That’s why we are collaborating with Canada’s AML industry leader Matthew McGuire, a Chartered Professional Accountant who leads the National Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Practice and the Investigative and Forensic Services Group in Ontario for MNP LLP.

Matthew is also:

Together with his team of full-time dedicated AML specialists in offices across Canada, Matthew leverages his regulatory and investigative experience to empower companies and governments with regulatory compliance and financial crime risk mitigation strategies, guiding them through regulatory exams and interventions, assisting with financial crime investigations and providing litigation support.

Since his time as an intelligence analyst with FINTRAC, Matthew has been speaking regularly on the topic of money laundering and financial crime to reporting entities, law enforcement, prosecutors, financial intelligence units, universities and conferences. He also authors articles for periodicals.

His many other credentials include:

  • an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Waterloo
  • received and was valedictorian for the University of Toronto’s Diploma in Investigative and Forensic Accounting program at the Rotman School of Management
  • certified as an Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists
  • accredited as an Anti-Money Laundering Professional (AMLP) by the Bank Administration Institute
  • qualified and admitted by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice as an expert witness in forensic accounting and money laundering
  • testified before Senate committees and before the House of Commons Finance Committee and matters related to money laundering legislation

Chat with Matthew at our upcoming webinar
Bring your compliance and risk colleagues (along with your marketing and operations leaders), to our 45 minute webinar on August 19th, where we will show you how cumulus™ is changing the game in the online space, and meeting every AML and FINTRAC requirement.

We know that it’s hard to be first in adopting a new technology. Join us and see how comfortable it is to take the leap into digital member onboarding.

Register for our August 19th webinar with Matthew McGuire here.



getting social with our first U.S. credit union

We are very excited to welcome Western Federal Credit Union to the thirdstream family. As a happy added bonus, Western is our first U.S. credit union client.

This dynamic and progressive FI is one the largest credit unions in the United States with more than $1.9 billion in assets and nearly 170,000 account holders across the country.

Western’s corporate office headquarters are in Manhattan Beach, California. They also have a Regional Midwest Office in Bentonville, Arkansas to support their mid-west and east coast account holders and branches.

The Western team has already done an impressive job of establishing a strong foundation in social channels, but they don’t want to stop there. They feel that deepening engagement with their members on social platform requires fresh insight and a renewed strategy. They’re ready to take things to the next level.

We were thrilled when they contacted us in early 2014 to find out more about what we could do for them. Moving forward as their social marketing strategy partner, we will:

  • plan and execute an annual content strategy
  • develop an annual social marketing flight plan
  • establish a collaboration with the Western team to help them manage their weekly social marketing
  • source relevant content aligned to the strategy and the established flight plan

This is a great group of people and we’re so pleased to be working with them. We look forward to sharing the many successes that they are bound to achieve as they ‘up’ their already considerable game in social channels. We’ll keep you posted.

meeting your increased IT challenges

In January of this year, we made a strategic shift in how we handle and protect data by joining forces with BlackBridge Networks, a leading Canadian technology service provider offering world-class cloud based application hosting services.

This collaboration with BlackBridge allows us to provide a state of the art, secure environment that supports our credit union clients’ goals in conjunction with our web-based financial solutions.

We recently sat down with Mike Stechyshyn, ‎Director of Business Development at BlackBridge Networks to ask him a few important questions about the company and its services.

What separates BlackBridge from other cloud service providers?
Cloud by its name sounds very ephemeral – way out there and not easy to touch. In reality, a cloud is like any other product or service and it’s helpful to understand more about who is providing it.

BlackBridge is a 100 % privately held Canadian company with operations in Lethbridge and Calgary as well as a significant presence in Berlin, Germany.

BlackBridge owns the land and buildings that house our cloud operations, offering a level of stability that is rare in this industry. Our data centre is one of the finest facilities in Canada, built to the highest standards both from a physical structure and the operating equipment inside. Specifically:

  • the walls are one foot thick concrete panels
  • state of the art waterless fire suppression
  • all of our computer and network  infrastructure is “carrier grade” high-end equipment engineered for high performance and availability with redundancy built into all major systems

Data is always stored in Canada for those clients concerned with data sovereignty issues.

Security of data is top of mind for our credit union clients. How does our partnership with BlackBridge benefit them from this perspective?
One cannot go and buy a product called “security”. Security is a multi-layer approach that, in combination, offers a very high level of protection.

At BlackBridge it starts with our data centre – a windowless fortress of concrete that from the exterior appears as a nondescript industrial building. Access to the facility is very tightly controlled with dual factor authentication for access and is monitored by closed circuit TV.

Our cloud infrastructure, is built using VMware technology – the same technology employed by the world’s largest companies – offering high levels of security and availability. The cloud infrastructure is located in the most secure room in the facility – a room that can only be accessed by a very small subset of our employees.

Recently BlackBridge completed the Service Organization Control (SOC 2) examination – the newest industry standard for providers of outsourced services and were one of the first companies in Canada to do so. This examination looks beyond the facility at the people and processes to ensure compliance with industry best practices.

We believe the combination of the security aspects of the facility and compliance with SOC 2 principles offer clients peace of mind with respect to security of hosting with BlackBridge.

Speed and connectivity are of vital importance to our clients. How do you ensure that both are industry standard?
Connectivity is paramount for the services we provide to our clients. BlackBridge employs a sophisticated BGP (borderless gateway patrol) gateway that monitors connectivity to the Internet. In the event of a loss of connectivity to our primary carrier, it automatically switches to a different carrier to ensure uninterrupted service to our clients. We connect to multiple carriers to ensure vital connectivity is always maintained. 

Speed is important, too. The BlackBridge Networks data centre is connected by a high speed network to a number of carriers. Performance of client’s connectivity is monitored by the Network Operations Centre (NOC) staff and we work in conjunction with our clients to ensure performance needs are met at all times.

What is BlackBridge’s back-up strategy?
We offer a fully redundant cloud stack. That means that if we lose a server, VMware can automatically transferred the workload to another server. We also offer an off-site back up location for data in the very unlikely event of loss of the data centre.

Tell us  more about being a Canadian solution.
We are a proudly Canadian company headquartered in Lethbridge, Alberta. We also compete and excel in the global marketplace. For example, we have:

  • clients in over 130 counties
  • acquired the assets of a major German satellite organization with offices in Berlin
  • operate a constellation of 5 satellites that can image any point on our planet every 24 hours

In spite of these significant global initiatives within our company, we remain firmly grounded in Canada. We believe that we can create jobs for Canadians in Alberta that allow our employees to live here while at the same time building products and services that serve clients locally, nationally and globally.

We have grown from one person in 1999 to over 150 today and believe that the best years are ahead of us.

Learn more about BlackBridge Networks here.