Closing the Access Gap Through Shared Branching

Closing the Access Gap Through Shared Branching

Closing the Access Gap Through Shared Branching

Today’s smartphone economy has given consumers instant access to more goods and services than they could have imagined even just a few years back.

And, while your members increasingly embrace this new world of apps and bots, studies show that traditional bricks-and-mortar business channels remain in demand – especially where personal finances are concerned.

“Both physically and digitally, the branch is a member’s doorway to financial services,” said Dr. Kathy Snider, senior vice president for CO-OP. “In fact, 70 percent of consumers choose a new checking provider based on branch proximity – the number one factor in making that choice.”

According to the ForeSee Experience Index, while nearly two-thirds of consumers begin the process of opening an account in a digital channel, 58 percent of those journeys end up in a branch.

For the 35 percent of people who begin the process of opening an account in a credit union branch, almost all of them – 91 percent – finish the process at the branch.

“Branches are deeply embedded in the consumer experience, which is why big banks tout their branch networks,” said Snider. “Participating in shared branching allows credit unions to compete with the world’s largest financial institutions by delivering both a first-class branch network and expansive account access.”

Scale Means Access

Today, the CO-OP Shared Branch network spans more than 5,700 locations nationwide. “Credit unions may not realize this, but we are second only to Wells Fargo in terms of number of branches,” said Jim Hanisch, president of CO-OP Network. “And, we are likely to become number one in the next year or two.”

This is because CO-OP continues to make strategic investments in shared branching technology to make the member experience simpler, faster and more dimensional.

“For example, we are currently in the process of migrating the network to a single switch for processing, so transactions can flow seamlessly between credit unions in real time,” said Hanisch. “Because our system is account-number based – instead of card-number based – members of any participating credit union can go to a partnering branch and transact as if in their home branch.”

Delivering on Digital

Hanisch adds that this new, centralized platform will enable fast, network-wide deployment of digital innovations such as P2P payments and COOPER, an advanced data-driven fraud mitigation tool that will soon incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence. COOPER will be made available first to Shared Branch clients, and is expected to roll out this summer.

“Our shared branch rails allow credit unions to tap into a technological ecosystem that not only expands their self-service offering in the branch, but also enhances the omnichannel experience for members,” said Snider. “And, that keeps members transacting.”

Partnering with Credit Unions

To ensure that the shared branch network maintains its competitive edge for years to come, CO-OP is working hand-in-hand with client credit unions through Co-Creation Councils and the Shared Branch Task Force to bring powerful new innovations to market. CO-OP leadership is also actively expanding the network of participating credit unions, leveraging sales, marketing and educational resources to build awareness and excitement.

“We think there is a lot of opportunity to bring credit unions into our network, and a lot of opportunity for those entities to capture more membership because of shared branching,” said Snider.

For complete information on CO-OP Shared Branching and how to join, contact us at

And join us for our next Shared Branch Update webinar: