NEW YORK - As credit unions' options for ATM and branching services steadily expand, the burden of keeping their members informed about branch and ATM locations has expanded as well. Now a start-up company has struck upon a service credit unions can use to help keep their members informed about where their ATMs and shared branches are anywhere in the nation. The aggregation service is called LocatorSearch, and it currently has between 20 and 30 client credit unions whose members can visit one page on their CU's Web site and, after sharing as little as a zip code, receive a directory of all the available ATM and branches in their areas. The directory will also include information as to whether or not the ATMs take deposits, the ATM network to which the machine belongs, the name or the credit union and services available there.
"At Affinity, we want the member experience with us to be as easy as possible," said Peter MacDonald, vice president for the $1.3 billion New Jersey-based CU. "The new LocatorSearch service will give our members a convenient way to locate facilities and interact with us near their homes, offices, schools, and vacation spots." Affinity belongs to CO-OP Network and Allpoint, giving its members fee-free access to over 50,000 ATMs nationwide. The CU also participates in shared branching, giving its members access to more than 1,700 possible shared branching outlets across the country as well. The LocatorSearch service makes it easy for members to search for and find the ATMs and shared branches that are convenient for them. Affinity brought the LocatorSearch page live on its site on Nov. 7 and members have reacted with enthusiasm, the credit union reported. In the first two weeks since the launch, Affinity members used the site more than 4,100 times, an increase in the usage of the credit union's locations page by approximately 43% over the same time period.
"Our goal is to help credit union members find their credit union's ATM and branch locations quickly, and we offer comprehensive, full-service solutions and support for Web-based location services," said Karl Kraus, president of LocatorSearch. The start-up company is the brainchild of Karl Kraus, the former vice president of information systems for the $538 million Quorum FCU, (the former Kraft Foods FCU) headquartered in Purchase, New York. Working at the CU Kraus saw the direction that ATM and shared branch networking was taking and a way that credit unions could approach the topic in an easy, cost efficient way. Kraus left the CU on good terms to create the firm. "I left the CU with good wishes from everyone who wanted to see the idea do well," Kraus said, adding that the firm quickly received permission to aggregate information from the different networks as soon as the networks realized his service made it easier for the credit unions to promote the networks to their members. Currently, the firm has between 20 to 30 CU clients, including both Affinity and the $394 million United Heritage Credit Union, headquartered in Austin, Texas. "United Heritage is extremely satisfied with LocatorSearch services," said the CU's information services director, Stuart Gehrke. "It's now easier than ever for our members to access all of our locations, plus ATMs and shared branches. It will save our members time and effort when looking for financial services."