HARRISBURG, Pa. – In partnership with Certegy Inc., the Alpharetta, Ga. card and check processor, the Pennsylvania Credit Union League is developing a non-member check cashing service with the first CU signups expected “in 30 to 60 days.” Debuting the program in Pennsylvania July 1 will be the $50 million Choice One FCU of Wilkes-Barre which agreed to the program “as a way of demonstrating that we fill the role of serving the underserved.” Corinne Sherman, vice president of card services for the League, said there are three other CUs “who are serious” about the “Pay Check Accept” program which the League says “is in the final stages of a rollout” to its members. The “Pay Check Accept” system for reading checks, said Certegy, is in wide use in merchant outlets and has also applications in community banks. Certegy executives in Alpharetta said they intend to expand the program elsewhere in the U.S. and have already lined up two Tennessee CUs, which it did not identify, also as pilot participants, and is contacting state Leagues, as well. “We know there is some interest in Idaho and we have scheduled Webcasts for interested credit unions,” said Jerry Marshall, senior vice president of operations for Certegy’s Check Division. Marshall said he has been in touch with the Idaho League for an endorsement and on that score the president/CEO, Alan Cameron, said talks with Certegy “are preliminary.” As in Pennsylvania, CUs without community charters may have more difficulty offering the service, said Cameron noting also that “each state law is different and there are regulatory concerns” in Idaho that have to be investigated before the program can be started. John Kebles, president/CEO of the 12,000-member Choice One in Pennsylvania said his CU will be offering non-member check cashing “not as a revenue producer but as a way to attract potential members.” Kebles, a past chairman of the Pennsylvania League, said his CU will be helping out low-income clientele and on that score has provided volunteer assistance on tax preparation and on low-cost mortgages. The CU’s policy, he said, is in line with the views of his congressman, U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D), “who knows what we are doing and is a supporter.” Sherman said the Certegy program would permit Pennsylvania CUs to enter the check cashing market at a level “which would not gouge consumers” in contrast to the exorbitant rates charged by payday lenders. Sherman said the League became interested in Certegy systems after witnessing kiosk applications at merchant outlets in Philadelphia. However, Certegy’s Marshall said the kiosks may not be as practical in CUs, in part, “because of cost factors – the hardware investment involved.” In the interest of gaining new members, CUs, he said, would probably prefer “the face to face contact.” -

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