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ATM Outsourcing Brings Surprising Benefits to Credit Unions

by Darren Smith | Originally published by CUInsight

Mobile banking usage has soared. Branch traffic has slowed. Younger account holders are increasingly unpracticed at human interactions and are reliant on technology. It’s hardly a surprise that many credit unions are reimagining how they provide account access for their members.

For some, a mix of digital and branches takes precedence. However, industry partners note many credit unions are cutting costs in other ways, like their investments in ATM access. Whether it is off-site ATMs, on-premise, drive-ups or surcharge-free access contracts, an increasing number of credit unions are making a choice to trim back on self-service channels beyond mobile banking.

But ATMs have consistently proven an important part of the self-service ecosystem used by the younger generation. Consumers under 40 consider convenient, surcharge-free ATM access important when looking at their options when choosing a financial institution. And consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 visit ATMs to get cash over seven times per month.

Fortunately, many credit unions are discovering there are ways to control costs and meet the needs of their members, through ATM outsourcing.

Solutions that Meet Member Needs Beyond the Branch

When branches have to move, consolidate or close, the impact can ripple through credit union membership and, occasionally, entire communities. In some cities and suburbs, credit union members are likely to switch to a different institution when they see their preferred location shut down. Affluent members are even more likely to switch institutions when they are inconvenienced by a branch shutting down.

But over the past few years, the increase in branch closures has hit mid-to-low income and rural areas especially hard. Smaller U.S. towns, lacking reliable internet and cellular service, are unlikely to benefit from heavy investments in online banking alternatives. But slimming down the branch footprint doesn’t have to mean losing convenience or reducing account access.

Instead, credit unions can keep a healthy community presence and still cut operational expenses by choosing dynamic outsourced ATM or ITM (interactive teller machine) solutions. Even absorbing the capital expense, these machines cost a credit union much less to purchase and operate than a standard branch. More critically, ITMs can be linked to the CORE network to provide traditional ATM transactions as well as more advanced financial services typically relegated to branch banking. And, for those individuals needing extra assistance, there is the video teller option that allows them to speak directly with a credit union representative.

ATMs and ITMs alone offer big savings to branch operations by themselves. However, credit unions leveraging an outsourcing program from a reputable ATM partner can realize significantly more benefits to their bottom line. Outsourcing solutions can keep the costs of advanced machinery off the books while offering a lower monthly cost for daily operations, maintenance, service and even cash management.

Reimagine Branches with ATM Outsourcing Solutions

Mobile users are not as branch-free as many would like to believe. Well over half of professed “mobile-only” account holders (60%) visit a branch. Over one quarter (39%) of those “mobile-only” consumers would visit branches more often if hours of operation better matched their schedules.

In addition to longer hours of operation, 36 percent of mobile banking users cite ATMs and ITMs as a way to increase their likelihood of visiting a branch. Another 32 percent are looking for financial expertise to help them navigate questions about money, retirement and other important financial decisions.

But, if keeping branches open is hard, keeping branches open longer is even more difficult. And the standard branch focused on more traditional banking transactions and tellers often has difficulty meeting the needs of members with more in-depth questions.

Reimaging the credit union branch is one of the best ways for institutions to reduce costs while catering to the changing needs of their members. In many instances, credit unions can convert to a smaller footprint or repurpose current space. Providing extended banking hours could be as simple as converting the lobby into a separate space focused on providing self-service options like ATMs and ITMs.

A different section of the building can then function to house a reduced staff focused on answering member questions, providing information and access to more advanced financial products and services. The staff office can be locked down before- or after-hours for additional security without affecting the accessibility of the self-service center.

ATM outsourcing can help credit unions reimagine their branches into a more sustainable operation that caters to today’s member needs. They provide affordable, customized ATM and ITM solutions that can include everything a credit union needs to streamline costs without the additional service, maintenance and day-to-day headaches that usually come with expanding self-service solutions.

How are ATM Outsourcing Providers More Effective?

ATM operation comes with a lot of obvious and hidden expenses, which is one reason many credit unions are cutting ATMs in favor of their other channels. Equipment, upgrades, compliance and cash management alone add up to large expenditures. Maintenance, service and day-to-day management only serve to take cost and frustration to the next level. And credit union employees are used to dealing with finances, CORE configurations, equipment, compliance and procedures.

How can an ATM outsourcing partner possibly do things better? Just like credit unions are experts at providing financial services to their communities, ATM outsourcing providers are focused on placing, managing and operating financial self-service machines. Their years of experience and extensive ATM and ITM portfolios help them create systems, procedures and relationships that generate greater efficiencies and cost savings within their field.

Whether it is saving money on current machines or helping discover new ways to meet member needs in these volatile times, ATM outsourcing just might have the solution you have been searching for. No matter the goal, partnering with a reputable ATM outsourcing provider can bring surprising benefits to credit unions.


Lean How Partnering with ATM USA Can Benefit Your Financial Institution

Darren Smith, Vice President, ATM Management

Craig Helmers, Vice President, ATM Management


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