Debit Network Choices Matter. Here’s Why.

March 1, 2023

It’s no exaggeration to say billions of dollars in incremental interchange are up for grabs right now, particularly when it comes to debit programs.

Even amid fears of a recession and the challenges of inflation, consumers are continuing to make everyday purchases with their debit cards. In fact, Visa’s Q4 2022 report showed that overall payments volume was up over 5 percent. Debit purchases made up $1.4 trillion of the $2.9 trillion spent across Visa’s network alone. That’s not surprising given S&P Global’s observation of the large jump in numbers of Gen Zers, millennials and Gen Xers who use debit as their primary payment card.

Becoming more strategic in the selection of a debit card network is one way credit unions can address three of the movement’s most pressing priorities: Earnings, Expenses and Experience. These are the ongoing pain points credit union leaders have shared with Co-op’s team, most recently during the Co-op THINK and CEO Summit events.

Co-op understands the urgent need to solve for the Three E’s, and we are making big moves to put credit unions in the best position to do exactly that.

This includes the rollout of Co-op Pay Network, a new debit network built specifically for credit unions with the express purpose of helping credit unions become more strategic in the deployment of an exceptional, member-centric debit card program.

By controlling fees and seeking to maximize interchange revenue, Pay Network empowers credit unions to optimize two of the most meaningful factors contributing to debit program profitability.


The Right Debit Network Delivers on the Three E’s of CU Sustainability

Indeed, the network’s purpose is what makes Pay Network different. It was designed to help credit unions achieve success across their Earnings, Expenses and Experience ambitions.

  • Earnings and Expenses: Pay Network optimizes debit processing profitability. By controlling fees and seeking to maximize interchange revenue, Pay Network empowers credit unions to optimize two of the most meaningful factors contributing to debit program profitability. Preferred rates and protection from frequent fee increases are among Pay Network’s most compelling differentiators as it makes budgeting fees a much more predictable exercise for Co-op’s credit union partners.
  • Experience: Delivering excellent debit card experiences is one way credit unions can be there for members every day, deepening the active engagement that is critical for growth. Members feel the difference when they are interacting with others that are part of the credit union movement. Pay Network participation extends that experience into the debit channel. This benefit is strengthened by the member-level data insights available to Pay Network Clients. They have full access to detailed network transaction analytics and peer-comparison insights).

    Credit union employees’ experience improves, as well. Pay Network participants have a single point of contact across their payment services for help with any matters related to billing, disputes, compliance, contracts and more. With Co-op as the contact for Pay Network, credit unions can work with us to resolve any and all issues.

How does Pay Network Work?

When a credit union participates in the Pay Network, their debit transactions run through a network that is unaffiliated with major networks like Visa and Mastercard. Pay Network leverages an extensive merchant network and is the preferred routing choice for six of the top 10 largest U.S. merchants. Co-op has negotiated special terms for credit unions that join the network, giving access to unique advantages, such as price increase protection, current termination fee avoidance, and increased revenue opportunities through the Co-op Choice program.

Beyond the financial benefits of this participation, there are also servicing advantages. When participating credit unions or their members have issues related to debit transactions, they are dealing directly with Co-op, a long-time credit union industry service provider who lives out the “people helping people” philosophy in every client and member engagement.

Pay Network is a foundational part of the Co-op payments ecosystem, integrating with other payments and analytics products to create a powerful fintech platform. With the connection to other payments products, credit unions have a powerful suite of services that provide a frictionless, yet secure, payments and servicing experience for members.

Why Now? Why Co-op?

As Co-op continues to invest in the development of the industry’s most robust payments and fintech ecosystem, solving challenges related to the Three E’s will remain a core driver of our innovation strategy Pay Network is just one of the spokes in the wheel of that ecosystem. Pay Network participants will experience that through the back-office efficiencies that come from access to the full ecosystem. Shared dashboards and reporting across each of the omnichannel solutions will drive the member and employee experience people expect today.

“If payments are the path to primary financial relationships, a debit network is the maintenance crew,” said Sally Reilly, Co-op Product Director, Payments Network. “Pay Network shows up for members, making sure their daily walks along that path are smooth and obstacle free.”

In other words, debit network relationships matter. They must be determined with strategic intention. Let’s talk through your individual challenges and goals to see how Co-op and our newly designed Pay Network can help you improve your Earnings, Expenses and Experience goals—and keep that path to payments smooth for members counting on your credit union to be there for everyday moments.

Learn more

To request more information on Co-op Pay Network, please contact your Co-op Client Business Executive, call 800.782.9042 or email

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