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BOWDOINHAM, Maine – It’s a youth program with a twist, and it’s creating quite a stir at Bowdoinham FCU, a progressive CU in the Midcoast Maine region that has quadrupled its assets in the last five years. Called “Xplay,” Bowdoinham’s program targets teen and young adults aged 15 through 24. “A lot of [marketing] people shy away from things like this because it goes from not-adult to adult-and-beyond,” says Heidi A. Small, vice president of marketing and business development. “It’s really two programs in one. But, we’ve designed it such that after age 18, the program won’t be too immature for students to take to college with them. And, with the benefits they receive, they’ll want to continue.” Xplay was created to address a gap in service to young adult members. “They wanted adult products, and we had no guidelines to go by,” Small says. “Our research through other credit unions showed no delinquency ratios [for this age group], which was a real eye opener for the credit union,” Small says. “We had to go for it.” Through focus groups with younger employees at the credit union and some students from local high schools, Bowdoinham determined which products and services would be most important to young adult members. In addition to providing checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards and car loans, Xplay offers incentives such as prepaid cell phones. In the works is a plan to offer gift cards to popular merchants for clothing, music, books and movie tickets. Financial education also a key aspect of the program, such as teaching the importance of not missing a single $10 car payment, as well as displaying self-control when it comes to using credit cards. Since Xplay was launched during Youth Week in April 2004, Small reports opening 127 Xplay accounts for the CU’s 636 members aged 15 to 24. Radio, TV and newspaper ads, as well as school promotions have helped to create interest in the program. The Xplay Web site also has generated more than 3,000 hits. [email protected]

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