BATON ROUGE, La. (6/25/10)--The practice of shared branching at credit unions continues to grow, according to a Baton Rouge, La., newspaper. Nationwide, 1,650 credit unions offer shared branching with 4,000 branch locations. Credit unions are the fourth-largest branch network in the U.S., said The Baton Rouge Advocate (June 17). In Louisiana, where the publication is based, there are 62 credit unions that participate in shared branching. Shared branching in the state was boosted after Hurricane Katrina. Credit unions that participate in shared branching can then take the money they save from not having buildings and staff costs to offer members loans with lower interest rates and certificates of deposit with higher interest rates, the newspaper said. Credit unions also are not “in your face competitive” like banks, according to William Staats, a Baton Rouge banking consultant. It would be hard to find two banks sharing offices, he told the newspaper. He also predicted that technology will reduce the need for physical branches, and mobile banking will increase. The article also noted that the number of credit union locations and the number of credit union members have doubled since 2006, according to the Credit Union National Association.