Recently, there has been an increase in articles and surveys asking whether branches are still needed, and Aux wanted to get to the bottom of the real stats about branch usage.
The COVID epidemic led many members to use digital channels that they had never used before, discovering the ease and convenience those services can provide. Branch traffic is down for many credit unions and banks, yet 84% of consumers still live within driving distance from their primary financial institution and “convenient location” is consistently listed as one of the top considerations in choosing a new FI.
It seems branches have not yet outlived their usefulness. In fact, The CU Times, June 18, 2021 edition, had a headline that read “Credit Union Branches increase first quarter.” Clearly, branches are not going away. But what about shared branching?
Is There Still Value in Shared Branching in 2021 and Beyond?
We recently reached out to participating credit unions asking for their thoughts on that very question, and we’re happy to report that 93% said there is still value in shared branching.
That same percentage said that the value comes from offering members many convenient locations. 75% said it comes from giving members an in-person option. Lower percentages, but still significant, said that shared branching helps their credit union with member retention and others have included shared branch access as part of their member expansion plans.
We asked what members value most and 76% of those surveyed said convenience. In another question, respondents said that withdrawals and deposits are the transactions their members do most, and our statistic confirms that. Deposits are consistently the most common financial transaction in shared branching followed closely by withdrawals.
Acquirers, those credit unions that open their branches to members of other participating credit unions, spoke of wanting to offer members and guest members the maximum number of locations and the most convenience. Others said they want to make certain the network stays balanced and that all participants should open their doors to guest members. Most, 76%, said “It’s the credit union way – CUs collaborating with each other.”
That message came out loud and clear in the comments. Credit unions participate in shared branching and open their locations to guest members because it is the credit union way. They believe in collaboration, cooperation, and “people helping people,” all for the benefit of members. Supporting members is what shared branching is all about and the reason that shared branching still has value in 2021 and beyond.