CO-OP CEO: Clarification of Recent Events
In the 22-year history of CO-OP Network, we have never received more press coverage than in the past four months. Interestingly, that coverage has dealt primarily with two situations to which we were not directly a party: the attempted acquisition of Credit Union 24 by Concord and the launch of the Allpoint Network. As with most such publicity, the vast majority has been positive and accurate, and we thank the media for that. There are a few points, however, that may have been incomplete or unclear. * ATM Access: CO-OP Network is a direct processor in PLUS, Cirrus, Star, NYCE, Pulse and several other networks. We offer more access than any other credit union network with over 800,000 ATMs worldwide. * Surcharge-Free and Deposit ATM Access: CO-OP Network has over 16,000 ATMs in all 50 states and Canada where a CO-OP Network cardholder can get cash surcharge-free, and over 5,000 where that cardholder can make a deposit. Yes, we have more locations than the largest banks. Surcharging of non-CO-OP Network cardholders is at the discretion of the ATM owning credit union. * Participation in Other Surcharge Free Networks: Contrary to recent rumors, CO-OP Network is not terminating all current surcharge-free relationships at the end of the year. Current alliance programs, such as SUM, Star sf and others, will continue based on individual credit union needs. Specific to credit union owned or affiliated networks and sharing arrangements, we encourage participation and exempt them from these policies. * Allpoint: This group has been a quandary. Originally formed three years ago as ATM National, their business plan was to recruit super regional banks to offer their ATMs surcharge-free to cardholders of smaller institutions for a monthly cardholder fee. The group was unsuccessful in signing large banks and restructured their business plan to seek ATM ISO relationships. Recently, the service was recapitalized and re-launched through a partnership with e*trade and Cardtronics. It has thus far garnered five customers, two banks and three credit unions. From what we hear of the fee structure, this service could be very expensive on a per transaction basis. Additionally, deposit taking is not part of their program. While we do not view Allpoint as a direct competitor, safety and soundness is ingrained in our approach. Management and our board of directors have advised caution and encouraged allowing sufficient time for this privately held company to prove their new business model and display staying power. For the past five years, CO-OP Network management and board have been focused on a strategy of building a national credit union network. We are close to achieving that goal with the help of our 900 credit union shareholders and 1,300 credit union participants. This has occurred against a backdrop of a volatile electronic payments marketplace and compression of network ownership in which credit unions do not have major ownership or control. The cooperative structure of our network provides a safe haven for continued progress of credit union goals. Our purpose is to build value for our credit union shareholders, preserve brand equity, serve our credit union customers, and provide electronic access to their member cardholders. Robert Rose CEO CO-OP Network Ontario, Calif.