Shared Branching Services Unite as FSCC Votes to Combine Services with Co-Op Financial Services

In a move that unifies credit union shared branching services, Financial Service Centers Cooperative, Inc. (FSCC) announced that it will combine operations with CO-OP Financial Services. The transaction, initially announced in September, was unanimously approved by FSCC’s shareholders last week and is expected to close in early 2012.

“We are very happy our shareholders so clearly see the benefits of combining with CO-OP Financial Services, which not only advances shareholder value but the vision of FSCC to have every branch of every credit union an outlet,” said Sarah Canepa Bang, FSCC President and CEO.

The shared network concept allows members to conduct financial transactions at any participating credit union as if they were visiting a branch of their own credit union. Between the two companies, more than 1,700 credit unions nationwide participate in shared branching, making more than 4,300 physical branch locations available to their members along with 2,200 Vcom® kiosk locations at 7-Eleven stores.

“This is a milestone day in our work to blend the strengths of both companies, creating a more tightly integrated shared branching network,” said Stan Hollen, CO-OP President/CEO. “The combination of services will result in efficiencies and economy of scale in branding, technology and administrative costs that will benefit all shared branching participants.”

But as much as the merger represents a step forward in terms of simplified logistics and greater convenience, having the entire shared branching concept under one roof will also allow the credit union movement to streamline its branding and messaging around this important service.

“This merger allows us to deliver a consistent message about the product,” Bang said. “It also frees us up to promote it more. We intend to grow the number of branches significantly. For members, the benefits will be more branches, more branches, more branches!”

Bang sees the merger of the two longtime competitors as a significant step for the larger movement as well.

“In the end, we all share the same mission, so I don’t anticipate significant challenges other than not thinking big enough,” she said. “This is more than a branch channel for the credit union movement. We must always be thinking of the future.”

And in light of Bank Transfer Day and other ongoing “move your money” initiatives, the merger serves to even better equip credit unions to compete with big banks.

“The only thing the banks ever beat credit unions on is convenience. Now we can tell the world with one unified voice, credit unions are more convenient than even the biggest branched banks,” Bang said. “With over sixty-seven hundred locations in all fifty states, that’s saying something. In the words of Jeff Foxworthy, ‘It ain’t bragging if you can do it.’”


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