CU Marketing Standalone Kiosk As One Antidote To Costs Of Branches

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New brick-and-mortar often comes with six-figure price tags-so there's little wonder why many credit unions remain one-branch operations.

But Paragon FCU's new automated branches could come in at much less, according to Paragon FCU's CUSO, Tellagent Corp., and its e-finance partner, Ensenta Corp.

"We're installing and configuring hardware and software for under $49,000," said Ed Viera, president of San Mateo, Calif.-based Ensenta. "Our main focus is to deliver a full solution at a price that's more in line for mid-size credit unions."

Paragon's CUSO is marketing FAST, or the Financial Access Service Teller, as a stand-alone kiosk that can act as an automated branch at a SEG or other community location.

As such, FAST can do everything a teller does, according to Viera.

For example, the graphic touch screen allows members to make deposits and withdrawals with cash or checks, validate check images, transfer funds, complete membership and loan applications, make loan payments and initiate changes of address.

But what's unique is that the FAST kiosk can hook into the shared branching network, Viera continued.

"FAST gives credit unions the ability to acquire shared-branching transactions in an automated fashion," he explained. "When someone who is not a member of the credit union performs a transaction with FAST, Paragon will be able to acquire that transaction under shared branching. Suddenly, Paragon is able to earn interchange fees."

FAST is set to maximize Check 21 efficiences as well, Viera said.

"FAST creates a check image and then conducts a 21 check-point verification process to scrub the check for fraud," he said. CUs can flag or reject checks that aren't readable or that don't pass the verification process.

Credit unions can also customize FAST to dispense funds to members according to funds-availability and member-relationship policies, said Viera.

Digital imaging and FAST's marketing programs give credit unions "greater control of cross-sell functions," Viera added. "Marketing messages give the credit union an opportunity to have a long-term, relevant conversation with the member."

Of course, FAST doesn't provide the personal interaction a teller can. Phase two of FAST's roll-out addresses that concern, said Viera.

"Next we'll provide a phone as another channel on the kiosk," he explained. "On certain transactions the member may be better off using the phone and connecting to a call center, which could be a third party that the credit union pays for on a per-transaction basis."

Paragon FCU, with $405 million in assets, will launch the first FAST machine at its new headquarters next month.

CUJ Resources

For more info:

* Paragon FCU at www.paragonfcu.org

* Tellagent at www.tellagent.com

* Ensenta at www.ensenta.com

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