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RALEIGH, N.C . – When it comes to mixing high tech and full service in its branches, North Carolina’s second largest credit union, the $1.31 billion Coastal FCU, expects to set the pace – and likely break new ground – for member convenience starting next month. Underscoring a commitment to be leading edge in its branch operations, Coastal, in particular, will be showcasing its specially-designed and extra-spacious Morrisville branch, opening April 5 and located in the community’s Research Triangle Park. The 8,800-square foot Morrisville branch, costing $3 million and housing an array of facilities ranging from multi-media displays and touch screen kiosks to digital signature devices and matrix switching, serves as the prime facility to members employed at an IBM software plant and at a host of large high tech firms. “We are fortunate to have such a high percentage of our members who have a strong tech background,” explained Charles Purvis, senior vice president of Coastal. Indeed, Coastal ranks among the top CUs in the nation in online user applications with 25% of its 120,000 members in that category. Particularly noteworthy about the Morrisville branch is the emphasis on retail sales of financial products and the close proximity of the loan staff, said Purvis. “We have designed the branch to incorporate a large amount of space so we can bring in a car into the building to display or motorcycle or boat,” said Purvis. In a setup comparable to a car dealer showroom, the loan staff can easily “interact” with members to discuss loan products as they look at the displays, said Purvis. Office cubicles are set up alongside the showroom so members can discuss transactions in privacy, said Purvis. If the Morrisville branch concept works well, said Purvis, it may be tried at future Coastal branches. In the meantime, Coastal has embarked on a broad program of expanding its smaller storefront branches in North Carolina cities, each of which incorporate the high tech/personal service concept but to a lesser degree. Coastal said in October and December it opened two large stand-alone branches in Raleigh and Cary “though they are not quite big enough to accommodate automobiles,” said Purvis. Nearly five more of the storefront branches are planned during 2004 in Sanford, Clayton/Garner and Pinehurst with plans for another super-large branch in Apex, a Raleigh suburb the first of 2005. All told, Coastal has 16 branches. In emphasizing technology and service, Coastal’s Larry Wilson, president/CEO maintains that “members go out of their way to visit our branches and need a healthy blend of convenience, easy accuracy and security.” The use of technology combined with personal service “insures that each visit” to a Coastal office “is an experience and not just a convenient process,” he said. In each of the branches, there are thermal printers, signature pads, pneumatic tubes, electronic cashers and free coin counters. “The grocery stores charge for the coin counters, but we offer it as a free service to our members,” said Purvis. In addition to using RTS video assisted tellers, branches are equipped with multiple channels of information. Also on the retail side – particularly on “informing members” – Coastal offers “Adque news” services, stock tickers, flash image systems and plasma screens. Rates are updated and listed on the plasma screens and “touch screen financial theaters” provide video and audio explanations of each CFCU product or services. “Self navigated solution centers are internet connected with custom homepages driving users to needed information in one click,” said Coastal. “A variety of both traditional and electronic marketing messages” are offered and “can be changed or personalized frequently” by the home office. Serving as consultant/advisors to Coastal on its branches have been Pranger & Pratt of Salt Lake City and architect Thomas Crowder of Raleigh both of whom “have been a key part of technology selection and design process.” On the information side, Coastal listed an array of vendors including IBM PCs for its solution centers, kiosk software and touch screens with Elo Touchscreen also a vendor. The 40″ screen plasmas by Zenith for rate boards can play ads or cable stations. The Adque system offered through Data Concepts of Nashville comprises three distinct channels of marketing ads which can be updated remotely and instantly. The stock ticker is on a 10-foot stock ticker with a 20-minute delay and offered through Rise Soft Tools. Operational technology includes digital signatures offered through Topaz tablets and there are digital check scanners by NMS, Richmond, Va. The CCTV remote teller stations with face to face video communications are operated by Diebold and the Coastal. Diebold has the contract on the pneumatic vat tubes, the coin machine, member phone and matrix switching. Del La Rue has the coin dispensing equipment. Coastal said its storefront branches will cost between $500,000-$600,000. “Our goal is to bring a higher level of technology to all our branches so that we can process routine transactions more efficiently and do a more effective job of selling while providing more value to our members,” said Purvis. -

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