Magazine article American Banker

Shared Branches Promise to Create Nationwide System

Magazine article American Banker

Shared Branches Promise to Create Nationwide System

Article excerpt

The credit union industry is well on its way to creating a nationwide banking system.

Through a network of "shared branches" - facilities jointly owned and operated by a group of credit unions - customers may soon be able to gain access to their credit union from anywhere in the country.

"Most major metropolitan areas will be covered [by a branch] in five years," said Michael J. Mercer, chairman of Credit Union Service Corp., Duluth, Ga., which is overseeing shared branching in about 16 states.

The two-year-old company's goal is to tie every state into a seamless system.

So far 105 credit unions have signed on, representing more than two million credit union customen, Mr. Mercer said. The network conducts about 30,000 transactions a month, about 5% of those cross state lines.

California Network Gains

In January, Credit Union Service Corp. and California's shared branching network agreed to link their operations. The link went live in April.

Forty-six California credit unions belong to the California shared branch network. There are 25 branches throughout California, and that tally could reach 85 by the end of the year, said Bonnie Irving-Strain, chief executive of the network. "It's an aggressive plan," she said.

There are some hurdles on the road to a nationwide system.

After months of talks Daniel Balagna, president of Southfield, Mich.-based Service Centers Corp., still hasn't agreed to link operations with Credit Union Service Centers.

"Before I put resources into it, I want to make sure they're off the ground," he said. …

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