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Fed360

FedLine Command® helps Austin Telco automate its morning routine

Knowing how important technology is to staying competitive in today’s world, Austin Telco Federal Credit Union (Off-site) recently underwent a major initiative to automate its services with the Federal Reserve. We spoke to Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Information Technology Christopher Mraz about the key role the FedLine Command® Solution played in Austin Telco’s automation efforts.

Chartered in 1941, with only a few locations, Austin Telco has since grown to 24 branches over the five-county metro area of Austin, Texas. The credit union proudly provides the personal assistance that its 89,000 customers have come to expect.

Automation initiatives

Initially, Austin Telco went live with the FedLine Advantage® Solution in an effort to mitigate fraud and risk in wire transfers. FedLine Advantage allows Austin Telco to process wires directly with the Federal Reserve with a level of security in place, including a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) and controls to the level of access for individuals in the organization. A few years later, the credit union made the shift to reconcile its check services directly with the Federal Reserve. But with Same Day Automated Clearing House (ACH) requirements, Austin Telco knew it needed more.

We have been able to achieve quite a bit of automation on our side, but with Same Day ACH coming into play, we knew what it would mean for our staff members. The move to FedLine Command was our final piece to complete the automation of our morning routine.

Christopher Mraz Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Information Technology
Austin Telco Federal Credit Union

Happier staff leads to happier customers

While Austin Telco has grown since its beginning days, they keep a small, yet mighty team. “We like to have a smaller, dedicated staff who make us work smarter,” Mraz said. The automation with FedLine Command eases some staff responsibilities, which allows time for new projects. “Our operations director used to come in at 6:30 a.m. to process files,” Mraz said, “but now he is able to use that time to focus on new things such as online and mobile banking, which are important to our customers.”

Less human involvement is going to equate to happier staff focusing on other things. Happier staff leads to happier members because staff are now able to focus on those members and assisting them. FedLine Command is really a benefit for the entire institution.

Christopher Mraz Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Information Technology
Austin Telco Federal Credit Union

Seamless implementation

Depending on your current connection, setting up FedLine Command typically takes anywhere from two to four months. “There was some complexity to the implementation process on both sides, between managing credentials and testing,” Mraz said. “That being said, everything went smoothly. There was zero downtime or interruptions to our service thanks to the robust setup process.” Austin Telco has seen several benefits since its transition to FedLine Command in 2018. Mraz highlighted staff member relief, the inherent security benefits of tokens and reduced human error as a few of the main benefits.

Importance of middleware

When asked what advice he had for organizations considering the switch to FedLine Command, Mraz stressed the importance of middleware. “If you are going to take advantage of FedLine Command, you should make sure you have an in-house automation utility depending on your core system,” Mraz said. ”We have middleware that picks up where FedLine Command leaves off. FedLine Command will push the necessary files and put them in our secure holding middleware, and then our core system completes the process, which helps with time saving and automation.”

Learn more

FedLine Command helps automate FedACH®, Accounting and Billing Services. FedLine Command is an unattended solution, which means no individual user is involved in day-to-day ACH transaction processing. For more information about how your organization can start using FedLine Command, attend our FedLine Command Overview and Benefits webinar (Off-site), visit the FedLine Direct® and FedLine Command Setup page or contact your account executive.

Note

The Federal Reserve Banks do not sponsor or endorse any of the non-Federal Reserve Bank-related products, parties or entities discussed in this publication.

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    What you need to know about FedLine® security controls

    Last year, the Federal Reserve Banks updated security controls for the FedLine Advantage®, FedLine Command®, FedLine Direct® and Check 21 Large File Delivery Solutions as a part of our ongoing commitment to security. Organizations that use these FedLine® Solutions and their End User Authorization Contacts (EUACs) are responsible for ensuring their staff complies with these security controls as required by Operating Circular 5 (OC 5). As the Federal Reserve Banks prepare to launch the pilot phase of the FedLine Solutions Security Assurance Program, we want to remind you to ensure you comply with these security controls.

    The security controls we updated last year cover the following topics:

    • PC and Operating System Controls
    • Server and Middleware Controls
    • Device Controls
    • Network Controls
    • Operational Controls

    Why does your organization need to comply with these security controls?

    As the threat landscape continues to evolve, we want to remind our customers the importance of the Federal Reserve Banks’ security controls. These security practices help address new and changing risks. The security controls are intended to be in alignment with industry best practices and are critical for organizations using FedLine Solutions to maintain a high level of security.

    Action Item:

    OC 5 contains the terms and conditions that your organization is legally obligated to comply with in order to use the Federal Reserve Banks’ electronic connections. Your organization should regularly review its OC 5 compliance. EUACs are the primary contacts between your organization and the Federal Reserve Banks when it comes to your FedLine connection. We continue to encourage you to work with your EUACs and other staff to review these security documents and practices outlined in OC 5. If you have any questions about OC 5 compliance, please contact your account executive or the Customer Contact Center.

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    Two easy ways to access Service Status daily

    FRBservices.orgSM is full of information to help Fed customers with their daily operations and tasks. From reference materials to information about industry events, there are a variety of reasons to frequent our website. However, there is one page you should check on a daily basis: Service Status.

    This feature is designed to keep you abreast of the operational status of Federal Reserve Bank Services. Whether you need information on opening and closing times or you are looking for details regarding a disruption, Service Status is where you need to go. There are two easy ways to access the page:

    1. When you visit any page of FRBservices.org, look for an icon in the top right-hand corner, as shown below. This icon will be green, yellow or red depending on the current operational status of Federal Reserve Bank Services.
      • Green indicates that all service areas are operating normally. However, there could still be a message you need to read, so you should regularly visit the Service Status page even if the button is green.
      • Yellow or red signals there is a service issue or disruption in progress. You should visit the Service Status page to learn more.
    2. service status button
    3. Another way to access Service Status is through the top navigation within FedLine® Home. We added this feature to make it easy and convenient for FedLine Subscribers to get timely notifications in one place. Once you log in to your user portal, you will see a Service Status icon, similar to the one on FRBservices.org, that is green, yellow or red. If you click on that icon, it will take you to the Service Status page.

    Understanding Service Status communications

    Once you have reached the Service Status page, you will see a list of service areas followed by a legend, as shown below. Similar to the Service Status icon color, a green check mark indicates that everything is operating normally, while a yellow triangle or red “X” signals an issue or disruption.

    service status alerts and legends

    You will find three different communication types on the Service Status page:

    1. Alerts appear when the Federal Reserve Banks are experiencing a service disruption. Service alerts contain recommended actions, alternative processing options and support contact information.An alert will appear on the right-hand side of the Service Status page, as shown below.
    2. service status alerts

    3. General notifications relay messages about events that do not impact a specific service area, such as information regarding testing or impending weather issues. General notifications appear at the bottom of the Service Status page, as shown below.

      general notifications

    4. Messages share information such as opening and closing times, maintenance, extensions and testing. Services with active messages will appear in blue text on the Service Status page. You can view a message by clicking on the name of a specific service. You will then see a new window open with a message, as shown below.

      messages

    Service Status has information that is essential to business continuity planning for your organization. It is the fastest and easiest way to obtain information from the Federal Reserve Banks regarding the operational status of our products and services.

    Action Item:

    Take the first step to stay informed by bookmarking Service Status and checking it daily.

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    Fed360

    Fiscal Service seeks financial institution proposals for Electronic Check Processing

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Fiscal Service, seeks applications from qualified financial institutions to serve as a Financial Agent (FA) of the United States. Proposals are due by June 5, 2019.

    The selected FA will provide services to develop, enhance, operate and maintain the federal government’s Electronic Check Processing (ECP) revenue collection system. Federal government agencies and Treasury’s lockbox FAs use the ECP application to store and retrieve captured images and data on checks and remittance items to facilitate paper check processing and to provide detail and summary data of items processed at the lockboxes to downstream reporting.

    Action Item:

    Interested and eligible financial institutions are invited to go to the Electronic Check Processing (Off-site) page for further information on filing proposals.

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    Currency Education Program: U.S. currency resources in multiple languages

    The U.S. Currency Education Program offers the public free resources, in multiple languages, about Federal Reserve notes. Brochures, posters and tent cards can be ordered (Off-site) in both English and Spanish. Several brochures are also available for immediate download (Off-site) in more than 20 languages! Order or download free materials today for training, education or consumer information purposes.

    In addition to print materials, tune in to our podcast (Off-site) and videos (Off-site) to explore different aspects of U.S. currency in English and Spanish.

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    Fed Facts: Five key functions of the Federal Reserve

    Have you ever wondered about the functions the Fed performs in its role as the central bank of the United States? The 10th edition of The Federal Reserve System Purposes & Functions (Off-site) provides an overview of the structure, responsibilities and aims of the U.S. central banking system.

    Below are the five key functions the Fed performs to promote the effective operation of the U.S. economy and to serve the public interest. Click on the links to watch informational videos where available.

    • Fostering payment and settlement system safety and efficiency (Off-site): The Federal Reserve works to promote a safe, efficient and accessible system for U.S. dollar transactions. In this role, the Fed helps to maintain the integrity of U.S. payment systems by keeping cash, check and electronic transactions moving reliably and securely. Another element of this role includes the Fed acting as a “bank for banks” and as the “government’s bank.” Federal Reserve Bank Services support of this function. 
    • Conducting monetary policy (Off-site): The Federal Open Market Committee sets U.S. monetary policy in accordance with three specified goals from Congress: to promote maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates in the U.S. economy.
    • Promoting financial system stability (Off-site): In 1913, The Federal Reserve was created to promote greater financial stability and help avoid banking panic. Today, the Federal Reserve continues to monitor financial system risks and engages at home and abroad to help ensure the system supports a healthy economy for U.S. households, communities and businesses.
    • Supervising and regulating financial institutions and activities: The Federal Reserve promotes the safety and soundness of individual financial institutions and monitors their impact on the financial system as a whole.
    • Promoting consumer protection and community development (Off-site): The Federal Reserve advances supervision, community reinvestment and research to increase understanding of the impacts of financial services policies and practices on consumers and communities. To perform this responsibility, the Fed performs a number of tasks to implement various consumer protection, fair lending, fair housing and community reinvestment laws and to improve understanding of the dynamics of the consumer financial market place. 

    SOURCE:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System website (Off-site)

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