Looking To Boost Usage, WPCU Waives Bill Pay Fee For Some Members

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In an effort to attract more online users, Wright-Patt Credit Union, Inc. is waiving its Bill Pay Service fee for all members with a WPCU checking account.

Chris Gardner, division manager of marketing at W-PCU, said the $4.95 monthly fee that the majority of its members paid-premier members already got the service free-was dropped after a recent conversion to a new data processor lowered the cost of the service to the credit union.

"We redid our website and our Bill Pay Service," Gardner said. "And because we are incurring a smaller fee, we decided to eat that fee ourselves and pass the convenience to the members."

While the campaign to promote the new free service wasn't expected to start until late November, Gardner said word of mouth has helped increase usage "slightly."

Gardner said the announcements will be made via billboards in the local market. He is especially happy that the credit union can use the word "free," after it was banned from using it for its checking account services because transaction fees were connected to it.

"Now we can tie in our checking accounts and free Bill Pay Service," he said. "Free is such a good word to use."

The dual community and SEG-chartered CU with $803-million in assets and nearly 150,000 members in five counties had 2,561 bill pay users at the end of September, which represents 12% of its online users or members enrolled in home banking and approximately 2% of its entire membership.

While the online banking service hasn't caught on the way the credit union-and the industry-would have liked, thus far, Gardner said it's only a matter of time before more people become familiar with its conveniences and sign on.

Stressing Security

"My job as a marketer and the credit union's job as a server is to explain to members that (online banking) is secure," he said, noting that the number of senior citizens using the service is better than expected. He attributed it to the personal training they receive from employees.

Gary Easterling, VP and COO of W-PCU, said the members who are using the bill paying service are so happy with it, he and his staff felt all of of Wright-Patt's members should have the same advantage.

"By offering the service free of charge to members with checking accounts, we discovered yet another way to enhance the quality of our financial services for our members," he said.

Gardner said the goal is to get more members signed up for the bill pay service, which allows members to pay their bills online and at their convenience or have their CU do it for them every month. They can also view payment activity.

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