Direct Deposit Ramp Up

Article excerpt

U.S. Treasury wants to help reach government benefit recipients

If you could do one thing that would boost customer loyalty, protect your bank against fraud and improve your bottom line, wouldn't you do it?

February is Go Direct Month and community banks and other organizations nationwide are jumpstarting their activity in Go Direct, a campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks to encourage people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income to use direct deposit. Although Treasury has been promoting direct deposit for more than a quarter of a century, this campaign is especially important today because the first wave of 77 million baby boomers will reach retirement age in just a couple of years.

The participation of financial institutions is vital for the success of Go Direct, and I'd like to encourage every community banker to think about signing on as a Go Direct partner. Consider the potential benefits to your bank and its customers:

* For customers who receive Social Security and other federal benefits, direct deposit is easier, safer and gives them more control over their money than paper checks in the mail;

* Direct deposit is a key weapon in minimizing check fraud losses to millions of dollars each year;

* It also saves money spent on processing paper checks. ACH transactions have saved consumers, businesses and the government billions of dollars;

* Direct deposit provides banks with a great way to earn customer loyalty since those who use direct deposit are less likely to change banks; and

* Go Direct can help you leverage your marketing and public relations programs by providing an opportunity to participate in a nationally branded campaign that supports your marketing strategy.

And consider this: Go Direct reaches members of underserved and rapidly growing market segments, many of whom do not have bank accounts yet cash their checks at financial institutions. About 20 percent of people who receive federal benefits such as Social Security still do not have direct deposit. Participating in the program can actually help your bank grow its customer base.

To support our partners, which include the ICBA and many community banks like yours, Go Direct provides a start-up kit of materials, including brochures, posters and teller tents. Co-branding materials are made simple with artwork available on the campaign Web site, www.GoDirect. …