CU Water Cooler

$10,000 Available Again In CO-OP THINK Prize 13 Competition

Bill PrichardComment

The entry period is now open for the CO-OP THINK Prize 13, with entrants having until September 28 to complete their Round 1 applicants and become eligible for the $10,000 grand prize sponsored by MasterCard. 

You can find complete details and apply here.

CO-OP Financial Services founded the CO-OP THINK Prize in 2010. The purpose of the prize is to inspire innovative solutions to the issues confronting the credit union industry. These solutions 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 first CO-OP THINK Prize winner was announced at the THINK 11 Conference in Anaheim, Calif. Last year, Matt Weidler, IT Asset Coordinator with Evangelical Christian Credit Union of Brea, Calif., emerged the winner. Weidler proposed a means for ATM access via a mobile phone. Rather than a debit card, then, a member could use a second mechanism at the ATM in the event they forgot the card or preferred not to use it.

On May 2 of this year, our CO-OP THINK Prize 12 winner was announced at the THINK 12 Conference in Boca Raton, Fla. The winning idea came from Paul Yang, CEO, Premier Community Credit Union, Stockton, Calif., who built a business plan around a “P2P Payment Card for CO-OP Network Cardholders.” As he explained to the judges, “My idea is a form of payment services – person-to-person. Anyone with a CO-OP Network card can send money to anyone else having a CO-OP Network card. By having this exclusive person-to-person payment system, members can easily pay one or another member, at any CO-OP ATM.”

The CO-OP THINK Prize winner is awarded $10,000. The money goes to the individual entrant, who may use it toward executing their idea, though they are not obligated to do so.

For CO-OP THINK Prize 13, the red letter dates to keep in mind are:

  • Sept. 28, 2012. Deadline to submit an entry (entrants fill out an online questionnaire that briefly states their idea).
  • Oct. 30, 2012. A total of 25 semi-finalists will be notified, and invited to produce a detailed business plan, on or about this date.
  • Dec. 19, 2012. Semi-finalist business plans are due.
  • Jan. 31, 2013. A total of three finalists will be notified on or about this date.
  • March 25-April 19, 2013. On-line voting takes place.
  • April 29-May 2, 2013. THINK 13 Conference is held in Chicago, Ill.
  • May 1, 2013. The CO-OP THINK Prize 13 winner is announced.

The 25 semi-finalists and then the three finalists are selected by judges from CO-OP Financial Services and an industry panel.

The ultimate winner is based on scoring by the panel of judges; online voting at; and on-site voting by registered THINK 13 Conference attendees.

Once the finalists are named, CO-OP Financial Services works with them to produce a video that helps the entrants to explain their idea. The video and entrants’ business plan will then be made available on the CO-OP THINK Prize 13 voting website and the video will be displayed at the THINK 13 Conference.

All three finalists and a guest of each are invited to the THINK 13 Conference, with CO-OP Financial Services covering their travel and lodging costs. 

Once again, you can follow the CO-OP THINK Prize 13 competition here. But we hope you will do more – help our movement with your creative thinking!


Bill Prichard is the Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, at CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He can be reached at 800-782-9042, ext. 3450 or