ONTARIO, Calif. and ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- All the pieces appeared to be in place when the discussions began roughly six years ago to bring a plethora of ATM support services to credit unions.
The idea of a CUSO that would provide outlets such as cash replenishment and ATM replacement was bandied about among board members in 2000 and 2001, but it wasn't until 2002 that a business plan was put together, said Jim Hanisch executive vice president, network operations and corporate development at CO-OP Financial Services, the electronic funds network CUSO that provides more than 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs to nearly 2,000 credit unions.
What stalled the CUSO's launch was much bigger than capital and technology.
"When we did a business plan, we discovered that there was clearly a market for these services," Hanisch recalled. "But we didn't have the personnel with the right expertise within our organization to move forward. At that point, every six months, the topic would come up again but the conclusion was the same."
The rollout of the new CUSO picked up steam when CU Anytime, LLC, a CUSO that provides a 168-ATM network to 29 CUs in New Mexico, Texas and California, joined CO-OP Financial Services in 2002. CU Anytime had already been providing some of the services proposed for the new entity.
Fast forward to 2007. The new CUSO, CO-OP ATM Services, LLC, will make its debut April 1. Jointly owned, by CO-OP Financial Services and CU Anytime, an array of ATM management services will be developed for credit unions including everything involved with owning an ATM, from managing armored carriers, to maintenance capabilities and the processing of image deposits. Other services to come are first-line maintenance that does not require repair, such as jammed cards or running out of paper and second-line maintenance, which will require a technician.
"The real difference here is offering the services to credit unions," said Don Gray, president, CU Anytime, on what sets the CUSO apart from competitors. "We set up the New Mexico operation some years back so we have some good performance history to show credit unions."
The CUSO will be located in Albuquerque, CU Anytime's home base. Gray said initially they will work with independent contractors on things like first and second-line maintenance.
Meanwhile, deciding what types of services CO-OP ATM Services would offer were and still will be dictated by the market and of course, need, Hanisch said. The first offering will be the proofing, balancing and clearing of imaged ATM deposits through Check Imaging, with rollout planned for 7-Eleven and its nearly 2,000 CO-OP-branded Vcom ATMs by the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter.
As far as raising the capital to get the new CUSO off the ground, Hanisch said CU Anytime brought the personnel, assets and expertise to the table, which substantially scaled down costs. Otherwise, starting from scratch would have been very capital intensive, he added. Gray said it's still too early to say whether services will be bundled or offered ? la carte.
"The servicing of ATMs--first and second line maintenance--are very regional driven. It really depends on what the [credit union] wants," Gray said. "That could change but there will be a custom offering."
According to CO-OP Financial Services' 2006 Dove ATM Deployer Study, on average, deployers incur monthly operating expenses of $1,444 per on premise ATM, and $1,450 per off-premise ATM. Deployers earn an average of $1,104 per month at their on-premise ATMs--64% from surcharge income and 36% from interchange income and $1,013 per month at their off-premise ATMs--70% from surcharge income and 30% from interchange income. Hanisch said for credit unions, the cost of ATM ownership tends to be higher.
"One of the areas we're looking into is why credit unions have those higher costs of ownership," Hanisch said.
As the CUSO preps to roll out its first service--proofing, balancing and clearing of imaged ATM deposits--Hanisch said some regions of the country will reach "critical mass" sooner than others, but all services will be offered to credit unions within the CO-OP Financial Services network. He gives props to Albuquerque for being a better place to launch than the hotly expensive Southern California market where CO-OP Financial Services is located. Looking out five years, the CUSO is projecting reaching 10% or higher of the 23,000 CU-owned ATMs, Hanisch said.
"The other services are in a formative business planning phase," Hanisch said on gradually rolling out additional offerings. "We're trying to scope each one of them. You can't do everything everywhere [and] we're trying to get our arms around that and get specific services assigned." --firstname.lastname@example.org