INDIANAPOLIS (3/15/11)--Despite 2010’s difficult economic environment, shared branching vendor Credit Union Centers’ expanded its shared branch network by 18 branches: five in Indiana and 13 in its newest market, Illinois. With more than 200 locations in Indiana, Credit Union Centers said it continues to provide the largest branch network of any financial institution operating in the state--exceeding the largest bank at 184 locations. In Illinois, Credit Union Centers’ number of branch locations grew to 73. Nationally, Credit Union Centers said its network now has more than 4,200 locations, making it the fourth largest branch network of any financial institution nationwide. It also signed four new credit union clients in 2010. One of the biggest trends in 2010 was the steady growth in consumer usage of electronic delivery channels coupled with declining use of paper checks as a payment method. This trend contributed to a decline in branch transaction volumes through the last several years, which continued in 2010 as well--resulting in the decreased number of branch locations at financial institutions, according to Dan Davis, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Credit Union Centers . “As consumers continue to shift away from the expensive branch transactions for the more cost-effective electronic type transactions, we will be seeing more of this trend in the coming years,” Davis said. “Digital transactions are cheaper and branches are obviously more expensive to build and maintain. A change in today’s member habits that requires less paper check processing along with a stagnant economy results in the consolidation or closing of underperforming branches.” Shared branching allows credit unions to redirect their members’ branch transaction needs to other area facilities when they make the decision to close an underperforming location. The credit union can continue to provide service in the area at a much lower cost, by only paying for only the transactions performed by members instead of the fixed costs associated with location.