Denver CU Opens Check-Cashing Facility In Branch

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One credit union here has opened a check-cashing facility as part of a new branch.

Denver Community FCU, which is headquartered downtown, opened the branch near Invesco Stadium, where the NFL's Denver Broncos play. The neighborhood, according to Annie Greengrass, the CU's director of marketing, had no other financial institutions before DCFCU opened a facility on what was an empty parking lot.

"That area was completely saturated with payday lenders and check-cashing places," she said. "If people are using those services, they might not necessarily understand the benefit of having a checking account and a debit card."

To assist these new members, Denver Community secured an education grant from the National Credit Union Foundation. Greengrass said the CU hired a part-time community educator to financial literacy on topics such as an introduction to credit unions, checking accounts and ATMs, budgeting, goal setting and savings accounts, identity theft and consumer protection laws, understanding credit, credit cards and loans, and the home buying process.

The new branch-DCFCU's third-is a full-service facility, and home to its CUSO, Denver Community Financial Opportunity Center. The CUSO officially operates lower-cost check cashing, plus other services.

"When people use the check cashing service, we offer them education," said Greengrass. "We have bilingual brochures, including a check-cashing brochure that explains the importance of a financial institution. We also have a brochure that explains the difference between a credit union and a bank. These brochures really help us communicate our philosophy and our message, which is to serve the underserved."

The $196-million credit union had been researching a location for a new branch for about three years, and it has had a successful debut, Greengrass said. From Feb. 9 through March 31, it has brought in 246 new members. Of those, 136 have a checking account for a 55% penetration rate. The average checking balance is approximately $800.

"We have only cashed 16 checks. People who have their check cashers are loyal to them. But, we have written 13 loans-mostly for auto-for a total of $186,000, and we have opened one investment account."

Greengrass said the CU is in the process of building relationships with auto dealers and Realtors in the area.

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