ATM optimization has become a convenience plus technology minus cost equation for many credit unions. To master this formula, it is important to understand them all.
Where Do Your Members Want Access to Their Money?
The first step in determining an ATM strategy is examining member needs. One credit union, Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union’s ( $2.2B, Harrisburg, PA) has had success with a strategy that relies on remote delivery channels. With only three branches and 220 ATMs, it serves members through online banking and other options such as a unique mail-in check deposit system.
How Do Your Members Want Access to Their Money?
ATM technology is converting even the most old-fashioned, teller-dwelling customers. ATMs with check-imaging technology became more mainstream in 2005 and will only continue to grow in popularity in 2006.
Check-imaging technology eliminates the labor-intensive elements of daily collections and decreases fraud with automated authenticity detectors. For consumers, it increases their comfort level with electronic deposits by allowing a depositor to walk away with a receipt bearing the image of his or her check.
Of course this technology, as with the addition of new ATMs, comes at a price.
Should You Invest in New ATMs?
Adding ATM locations may require entire fleets of ATMs, while meeting the consumer demand for new self-service branching with capabilities such as check imaging may require expensive upgrades.
How can credit unions best adhere to member needs and remain competitive in a cost-efficient manner? Partnerships may be the answer.
To add convenience, some credit unions, such as Municipal Credit Union ($1.2B, New York, NY), have partnered with third parties like McDonald’s or SEG facilities to house ATMs. Placing ATMs in locations that are easily accessible to members helps improve service and market the value of the credit union to non-members. Migrating members to ATM is often much less costly than having a teller provide the same services within a branch.
Shared branching networks recently demonstrated an opportunity to both soften the blow of investing in new technologies and leverage existing infrastructures. Participating credit unions in the Financial Service Centers Cooperative, Inc. shared branching network now have access to check image processing via self-service kiosks at some West and East Coast credit unions. Though one credit union may not choose to invest in new machines right now, by banding together in a shared branch network, members can easily deposit checks without using a branch.
Cost, Convenience and Katrina
Recent natural disasters such as Rita and Katrina have reminded the industry of the importance of access and functionality. While giving members easy-to-locate alternative branch locations and ATMs is important for optimizing distribution channels on a daily basis, it is critical during a disaster. By providing mobile ATMs or online branch and ATM search engines, members have access to their money and peace of mind.