The Wheels On The Branch Go Round And Round

Credit unions are converting buses into branches and offering a different take on the concept of “mobile” banking.


Food trucks were all the rage this summer across the United States. The New York Public Library’s exhibit chronicling lunch included a nod to food trucks and carts that was complemented by a rotation of modern food trucks in nearby Bryant Park. DC workers planned their lunches around estimated walk and wait times for their favorite mobile cuisine. The craze even rolled into Paris, France, via artisanal tacos and hamburgers.

But the mobile craze doesn’t stop there. “Truck shops” popping up across the United States offer fashionistas on a time budget access to all kinds of … well, stuff (think of them as a trendy CVS on wheels). And soon, Connecticutians can open checking accounts or apply for loans by visiting Nutmeg State Federal Credit Union’s ($346.2M, Rocky Hill, CT) mobile branch bus. Beginning in December, the bus will enable the credit union to serve members at work or school without having to open an on-site location.


Photo courtesy of Nutmeg State Federal Credit Union

The strategy is one way credit unions are expanding their member outreach and making their products and services more convenient.  In 2010, Palisades Federal Credit Union ($159.8M, Pearl River, NY) retrofitted a mobile branch bus it bought from a Colorado bank for the bargain price of $50,000. Its mobile branch is now a major selling point for employer partners and SEGs, as the credit union can meet new members and conduct transactions on their turf without having the overhead associated with a traditional branch. Far from using the rolling branch as a marketing gimmick, Palisades operates a monthly route that includes more than 20 locations. (Subscribers can watch a webinar featuring Sean Jelen, COO of Palisades, on why the credit union pursued a mobile branch option).

With the 32-day holiday shopping season in full swing, chances are your credit union’s members are focused on party planning and shopping. Throw in the pressures of selecting the perfect gift, decking the perfect hall, and traveling in inclement weather, and it’s no wonder the holidays can become overwhelming. Alternative branch strategies, such as the mobile branch, make accessing accounts and conducting transactions easier access than ever for members. What’s more, mobile branches represent one more touch point for education and outreach. Nutmeg State FCU’s bus branch is convenient for members, but it also offers the opportunity to educate members about the credit union’s services while people are onboard.

But mobile branches do more than help busy members during the workday. Hurricane Sandy made its mark on Nutmeg State’s membership last month. Fortunately, the credit union’s bus branch contains a generator and cell towers that allowed it to maintain power and serve members during the super storm and it will be there in the event of future natural disasters. The possibility of fierce storms has arrived with the winter weather, and this branch on wheels is a resource for banking in disastrous conditions.


Nov. 29, 2012

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