Washington State CUs Roll Out No-Surcharge ATMs

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A group of Evergreen State credit unions recently launched an automated teller machine alliance that will allow the CUs' members to use ATMs surcharge- free statewide.

Cyndie Martini, vice president of electronic services for the Washington CU League, also serves as administrator for the Northwest Credit Union Alliance. The NWCUA was formed in 2001, but the ATM network became operational July 1. Members include Washington State Employees CU, Twin County CU, Kitsap Community CU, Verity CU, Seattle Metropolitan CU, Simpson Community CU, Alaska USA FCU and Boeing Employees CU.

In addition, Watermark CU and Qualstar CU were "instrumental in the formation of the alliance," Martini said.

Alaska Option Services Corp., Anchorage, provides ATM transaction switching. The majority of card processors for the credit unions in the alliance have completed a certification process with Alaska Option.

"The network began testing transactions in June," said Martini. "Not all of the credit unions are on board right now. Each network must be tested to make sure transactions are accurately switched from one processor to another."

The Dues Formula

The NWCUA has worked with many processors, including the CO-OP Network, to form the new no-surcharge alliance, Martini said. The alliance members pay dues to cover the administrative costs of the network.

Dues are based on the number of outstanding ATM cards a credit union has issued, and are on a tiered scale from $500 per year for small credit unions, up to $3,000 for large credit unions.

"Next year, we hope to cut the dues cost by 25% to 30%," said Martini. "The more member credit unions we have, the lower the dues structure."

The alliance's executive committee is led by Chairperson William Hayes, president and CEO of Verity CU. Other officers include First Vice Chairperson Jim Fish, vice president of operations for Alaska USA FCU, Second Vice Chairperson Janice Peters, manager of EFT services for Seattle Metropolitan CU, and secretary/treasurer Grace Semingsen, vice president of member services for BECU.

Martini said she and the four members of the executive committee worked as a team in the formation of the ATM cooperative.

"Without their support, it never would have happened," she said. "(The cooperative network) will benefit their credit unions, but it also will benefit the small and medium credit unions at large in the state. Washington credit unions of varying asset size now have an alternative shared deposit, no-surcharge ATM solution, without high network fees."

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