Spokane Journal of Business

Ten credit unions here team up to put in ATMs

Three of the institutions also plan to open joint branch office on Francis

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Ten Spokane credit unions have formed an alliance to create a network of automated teller machines (ATMs) in the Spokane area to provide improved service to their members.

Meanwhile, three of those credit unions also plan to open a joint branch office on the North Side, for much the same reason.

Mari Strenge, president and CEO of Spokane Postal Credit Union, which is involved in both projects, says such cooperation is what credit unions are about. We share information on all kinds of things because its a movement, she says.

The ATM project and the joint branch office are just two recent examples of credit unions cooperating here, Strenge says. Spokane Postal, for example, has shared training services, a human resources director, and certain processing functions with other credit unions here for years, she says.

The 10 credit unions involved in the ATM project include Spokane Postal, Global Credit Union, Spokane City Credit Union, Spokane Federal Credit Union, Spokane Firefighters Credit Union, Spokane Railway Credit Union, Spokane Teachers Credit Union, United Health Services Credit Union, URM Credit Union, and Washington State Employees Credit Union.

The three involved in the joint branch office project, at 1212 W. Francis, include Spokane Postal, United Health Services, and Spokane Federal.

Denise Gabel, vice president of marketing and planning at Spokane Teachers, says that in the ATM project, the group of 10 credit unions initially plans to install seven or eight new ATMs in the Spokane area and upgrade a few older ones already operated by credit unions here. The approximately 35 ATMs already operated by the 10 institutions also are expected to become part of the network, she says, and the network could be expanded beyond that.Two this yearAt least two of the new machines will be installed this year, including one at Spokane Fire-fighters main office at 2002 N. Hamil-ton and one at the new joint branch on Francis, Gabel says. Both are expected to open in late summer or early fall.

If additional sites can be nailed down in time, more ATMs could open this year, Gabel says.

The group has been looking into a number of retail sites, including shopping malls, where it could place more machines, she adds.

Gabel expects all seven or eight new machines to be in place by the end of 1999.

Each new ATM machine will cost about $60,000 to buy and install, Gabel says. The members of the alliance will contribute to the cost of the machines based on the comparative size of their total assets, she says.

Members of each of the credit unions wont be charged to use the groups ATM machines, she says. The alliance hasnt determined yet whether non-members will be charged to use the machines, but it plans to use the machines to market to non-members the credit unions services.

Its been a neat project, Gabel says. It made sense to go together on ATMs. Really, what weve done is pooled our resources.The shared branchSpokane Postals Strenge says the new joint branch office is expected to open Sept. 1. It will be located in the former Rice Time Express building on Francis, which has been vacant since the restaurant closed in 1995.

Weve been talking about this for several years, she says. Its more cost effective than each of us putting our own up. The new branch will be just the second location for both Spokane Postal and United Health Services and the fourth for Spokane Federal.

The facility is expected to employ five tellers who will be able to help members from any of the three credit unions, plus one member-services representative from each of the institutions, Strenge says. Those reps can open new accounts, make loans, and provide other specialized services, she says.

The facility will have drive-up banking lanes and a night depository, plus the ATM machine that will be installed as part of the ATM project, she says.

Strenge says a cost estimate for remodeling the building on Francis hasnt been finalized yet.

  • Marlene Mehlhaff

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