Shared Branches and an ATM Network That Meet Your Members Where They Are

April 1, 2024
Shared Branches and an ATM Network

Much has been made in recent years of the decline of the physical bank branch. 

But lately, some big banks are reversing course after years of branch closures, and have begun adding branches to their network. JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, recently announced plans to open 500 new branches in the next three years, pushing its network size over 5,000 from coast to coast. 

This is in response to research showing that in-person access is still very important to many consumers, including young adults. 

According to research from eMarketer, 42% of Gen Z consumers in the U.S. would consider access to a nearby ATM an important factor in choosing a new financial institution, and 28.8% would consider their distance to a branch. In fact, almost half (48.8%) of Gen Z respondents cite the availability of human interaction as “extremely” or “very” important when purchasing a financial product or service. 

What these statistics show is that having access to a robust, nationwide network of shared branches and surcharge-free ATMs is an important way for credit unions to meet the needs of their members, no matter where they are! 

Why do members need access to branches and ATMs? 

Today, much banking activity is conducted online and via mobile devices. But consumers still value having access to physical locations, particularly when they need to conduct more complicated transactions or are seeking advice on major financial decisions. 

For many credit unions, this presents a challenge, as their physical reach only extends to their own branch and ATM footprints. But a shared branching model like the Co-op Shared Branch Network can extend that reach virtually overnight without the considerable investment, allowing members to enjoy the same great service they receive in your branch at any one of over 5,400 locations nationwide. Roughly one-third of all credit unions participate in shared branching as an effective way to address the needs of the “phygital” member—the growing cohort that prefers conducting their banking business both online and in a physical branch.  

Through a mix of human and interactive teller machine (ITM) services, participating shared branch credit unions can deliver outstanding, personalized service to those members that live or work far outside their branch footprint. And with Shared Branching, the network is backed by a sophisticated suite of protection solutions to help stay ahead of the ever-changing fraud trends. Including, advanced decisioning technology, a fraud alert network to report confirmed Shared Branch fraud trends and Co-op's latest ID proofing innovation, IDCheck by Co-op, to help verify and prove a members’ identify to fight account takeover and identify theft fraud. There are numerous scenarios where shared branching can save the day. For example, it allows students leaving home for college to remain active with your credit union, and members for life! 

For those members that have lengthy commutes to work, a shared branch allows them to access personalized service whether they are at home, at work or in between. And for those members traveling out of town for work or pleasure, having access to a shared branch can save them from difficult or embarrassing situations when they are far from home. 

“The way we look at it, members want to transact however they want to transact,” says Chuck Papenfus, CEO of Inland Valley Federal Credit Union. “Sometimes that's on our app, sometimes it's on a computer, sometimes it's in person or at an ATM. And there might be some things you can't do remotely. I have not figured out a way to get a cashier's check from my phone, or deposit cash into my account other than in the branch or at an ATM.” 

Whereas a physical branch is designed to meet the needs of members with complex financial transactional needs, access to a surcharge-free ATM will help them conduct simpler transactions, such as cash withdrawals, deposits, balance inquiries and transfers 24/7. 

Although cash has declined in popularity in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, 17% of consumers still cite cash as their primary payment method, according to proprietary research conducted by Co-op with MasterCard. For these consumers, cash holds several perceived benefits, including its near-universal acceptance, reliability and privacy protection. 

Cash remains popular among older generations, but it is also gaining new fans among  young adults. Boomers, seniors, and Gen Z all prioritize carrying cash, with members of Gen Z carrying the highest amounts on hand of all demographics, at an average of $116.  

Strengthening your shared branch and ATM network strategy 

There are a number of ways that credit unions can maximize the reach and impact of their participation in shared branching and a surcharge-free ATM network.  

“We have a whole page dedicated to shared branching on our website, with both the QR code and branch locator,” says Karen Bejarano, Vice President, Arizona Branch Operations at TruWest Credit Union. “We also review the shared branching and ATM networks with all our new members, we give them a shared branch membership card and follow up with them in two weeks. We really do educate them throughout the journey.  

“We are big supporters of shared branching and try to engage both our staff and members to ensure they understand its benefits.” 

Shared Branch and ATM Networks Support People Helping People 

For your members, having access to a nationwide network of shared branches and surcharge-free ATMs offer a wide range of benefits. They gain convenient access to their accounts in emergencies, whether they need cash in a pinch or have a more complex need like a certified check or wire transfer. 

For your credit union, these networks level the playing field with the largest banks in the country, allowing you to compete with any institution on convenience, access and service. Shared branches also provide you with peace of mind in the case of a local or regional disaster, allowing you to continue doing business with your members even under the worst-case scenario. 

And shared branching and ATMs can be a boon for growth. They allow you to retain your members even when they move away for a new job or to attend college. They also allow you to keep your branches busy, by extending your service base beyond your own members, thereby maximizing teller line efficiency and usage. 

Credit unions should leverage these physical locations – and the technological infrastructure driving the network – to make member experiences simpler, faster, and more dimensional. By embracing branches and ATM terminals along with digital banking and other innovations, your credit union can be there for members whenever—and wherever—they need you today. 

To learn more about the Co-op Shared Branch Network, visit: And to locate any one of the 33,000 ATMs in the Co-op ATM Network, visit  

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