Local credit unions turn to shared services to keep up with increasing deposits

Andrews Federal Credit Union has three branches in Maryland and one in the District.

But thanks to a network of shared credit union sites, members can go to any of more than 4,600 branches around the world to deposit checks, pay off loans or withdraw money.

“You may not find a building with your credit union’s awning on it, but you can still do all sorts of transactions,” said Fred Becker, president and chief executive of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

Area credit unions are increasingly turning to branch sharing following Bank Transfer Day — an initiative that encouraged consumers to move their money from large banks to credit unions last November.

“We’ve seen an influx of deposits coming in since last year, and we continue to see that build up across all credit unions,” said Craig Beach, president and chief operating officer of Co-Op Shared Branching, which oversees a shared network for 3,000 credit unions.

In the first six months of this year, the Co-Op network added 301 branch locations, a 36 percent increase from last year. Taken together, the shared credit union outlets make up the fourth-largest branching network in the country, behind Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase, Beach said.

“We want all credit union members to have a large network where they can do their banking,” said Linda Garboczi, vice president of marketing at Andrews FCU, which began allowing members of other credit unions to begin using its facilities last month. “The face-to-face transaction just makes life more convenient.”

There are currently 74 credit unions in Virginia, 17 in Maryland and 22 in the District that participate in shared branching. Many said it was an obvious decision.

“From a credit union perspective, we just didn’t have the capital to put all these branches all over town like the banks do,” said Doug Drury, chief financial officer of Market USA Federal Credit Union, which has two branches in Maryland. “Now the majority of our members use shared branching.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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