CU-Owned ATM, EFT Network Can Compete With Any Bank's

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Credit unions run a surcharge-free ATM network rivaling that of any large national bank, according to Jim Hanisch, EVP of the CU-owned CO-OP Network.

The CO-OP Network's band of nearly 19,000 ATMs very recently became a national player, after 7,500 of those ATMs were added in 2002 in an alliance with eFunds Corp.

The CO-OP Network is the nation's largest ATM and Electronic Funds Transfer Network, owned and controlled by more than 1,700 CUs.

"The breadth of the ATM and EFT delivery system that is available to credit unions is now truly competitive with any bank in the U.S.," Hanisch said.

Transaction volume has increased by 800% since the eFunds machines were added. The network processes an average of 320,000 ATM transactions per month in 2004, up from approximately 40,000 per month in 2002, he said.

"The 7,500 ATMs we added gave us significant market presence in all 50 states," Hanisch added.

Hanisch said that the network's size gives CUs and their members an edge. "Many credit unions have only one or two branches, so if they're going to compete with super-regional banks they need to extend their delivery systems," Hanisch explained. "The CO-OP Network, in which our members also represent our ownership, is giving credit unions the capability to service and extend their membership."

Control of the ATM world is continually up for grabs, marked by events such as the $3-billion Wal-Mart settlement with VISA and MasterCard that could drive up rates to merchants and create the potential for a "Bank of Wal-mart," Hanisch continued. "Despite a year absolutely filled with bombshells and earthquakes and various competitive threats, our business continues to grow dramatically," Hanisch commented.

For the first time, the CO-OP Network will process more than one billion transactions per year, he said. For the month of May, the processor completed a record 86 million transactions.

Hanisch estimated that by 2007 the CO-OP Network would run more than 25,000 ATMs and process more than 1.5 billion transactions.

"We expect continued growth as consumers move to electronic payments," he said, "as well as continued expansion of the network with additional credit unions choosing to participate."

The CO-OP Network serves more than 35% of the nation's CUs with assets greater than $50 million, and more than 19% of those with assets between $10 million and $50 million.

The CO-OP Network should be a fairly attractive option to credit unions looking for ATM network and EFT processing options, he said. "For the past eight years, we have had eight price decreases and have also passed on patronage dividends each of those years. If credit unions want to cooperate in building a delivery solution, we're hands down the right solution."

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