SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Service Centers Corporation, one of the three national shared branching networks, estimates 10% of credit unions in the country now participate in a shared branching arrangement. SCC pegs the number of CUs participating in shared branching at 1,174, though because the three networks each count their credit unions a little differently, it can be hard to come up with a exact number of how many credit unions participate in shared branching nationwide. Craig Beach, vice president with the Atlanta-based Credit Union Service Centers, anticipated that if the percentage of credit unions participating in shared branching had not yet reached 10%, it would do soon. All three of the networks have been showing strong growth, Beach explained. "Consumers seek simplicity and, specifically, nearby access to financial institutions, and shared branching is becoming the solution for credit unions," says Ken Sucher, acting president of SCC, which opened its first shared branch in 1975. "Without the brick and mortar costs affixed to building a new branch, credit unions are boosting profits and member satisfaction," he said. SCC is particularly pleased with how its alliance with the Encore Electronic Services Cooperative has been working out. Encore is a cooperative card and EFT network that is based in Falls Church, Virginia which is credit union owned. Encore has operated a cooperative shared branch network, primarily in the Mid Atlantic states and the Washington D.C. area since 1992 and has entered into an agreement with SCC to allow its members to participate in SCC. That participation has yielded results as a number of credit unions in the Mid-Atlantic area have signed up with SCC in the last year, according to Sucher. -

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