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Keeping CU control of networks important--survey
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (6/16/09)--Credit union executives surveyed say that keeping control of ATM and point of sale (POS) networks is important to the credit union movement. If they lost control, the executives predicted that the movement would see increases in price and decreases in income.
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The survey was conducted by Credit Union 24, a surcharge-free, credit union-owned, ATM and point of sale network. About 153 credit union executives responded. Easy access to a large network of surcharge-free ATMs is important for credit union members, according to 89.2% of credit union executives polled, and 71.3% said a credit union-owned point-of-sale (POS) network is important for the credit union movement. About 67.4% polled said that if credit unions lost control over ATM and POS access, a price increase/income decrease would occur. Currently credit unions have access to the largest fee-free networks in the nation, with more than 50,000 surcharge-free ATMs and hundreds of thousands of POS terminals at merchants. The statistics show the success achieved from credit union networks that address the direct needs of credit unions and their members, said CU 24. It also concluded that credit unions can evolve these services to even better address members' needs--when credit unions have direct control over these member-contact points. "From these results, credit unions can see the overall picture of where their products and services rank among credit unions," said Jim Park, CU 24 president/CEO. "It also allows networks to more accurately gauge where and how we need to focus our efforts to give credit unions the tools they need." About 61% of responding credit unions said that attracting consumers to become new members in the movement is the No. 1 challenge facing credit unions today--more than the 59% who cited the current economic climate as the main challenge. Roughly 67% said that consumer misunderstanding of credit union benefits over banks is the greatest challenge in attracting new members and directly affects credit union growth in a volatile economic climate. "The survey illustrated that credit unions are currently utilizing multiple products and services that ensure the longevity of their credit union, the overall credit union movement, and the individual credit union member in this challenging economic climate," said Mansel Guerry, president/CEO of Mississippi Employees CU, Jackson, Miss., and CU 24 board chairman. CU 24 also asked what challenges credit unions are experiencing and identified how credit unions are addressing those challenges. The results can help credit unions see "where to focus their membership outreach efforts and target consumers with the elements of credit union membership that benefit consumers most," said Guerry. A majority of credit unions surveyed were currently promoting free checking, online banking, surcharge-free ATM access, and lower fees on mortgages and loans to attract new members. Those polled said promoting these elements will help achieve growth. Guerry noted that credit union members benefit from being a part of the member-owned structure and from being a part of participant-owned networks, which "provide credit unions and their members with a direct voice and choice in their financial services decisions." The survey also asked credit union leaders what they look for in choosing a credit union service organization (CUSO). More than half said that credit union-owned CUSOs do a "better job" of serving credit unions. More than 70% look for exceptional customer service from a CUSO, while 40% look for flexible programs that are customizable.


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