BY KAITLIN MORRISON
We’re in an interesting moment for credit unions. Branches and mobile banking are currently core of most important financial consumer experiences, but credit union members are asking for more.
Building strong community relationships was always a credit union advantage. Shared branching is one way credit unions can leverage this relational distinctive to stay competitive and meaningful. Branches are still a brilliant and necessary part of the credit union commitment to serving members’ financial needs. Shared branching supports this commitment by offering better experiences, helping credit unions stay open for more members and protecting continuity of service.
Credit unions have access to a substantial network, too, that actually dwarfs many of the national bank networks. As of 2017, CO-OP Financial Services’ Shared Branch Network is the second largest branch network in the United States with over 5,600 brick-and-mortar branches and 1,800 credit union members. Self-serve terminals, branches and ATMs connect credit union members in all 50 states, providing access to financial services almost anywhere consumers live, work and travel. In total, around half of all credit union members in the US are connected to this network. That’s a lot of branches and plenty of touchpoints for credit unions looking to reach and expand to new audiences.
Where User Experience Starts
Truthfully, consumers aren’t dumping the branch experience en-masse for mobile banking. They want both.
For credit unions, marketplace competition itself has changed—it’s no longer credit union-versus-credit union. The competitive terrain has shifted. With more opportunities than ever before to connect with their finances, financial consumers are no longer tied-down to one platform or even one institution. Peer-to-peer payments and lending, mobile banking and alternative payment platforms such as PayPal are all options that today’s financial consumers relish. It’s led some observers to believe that branches are irrelevant.