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GARDNER, Mass. – Demographics and technology have come together to help GFA Federal Credit Union venture forth into a new market while bolstering service to its old stomping grounds. The Gardner-based CU is developing a new branch, ATM and kiosk workstations in the nearby town of Rutland that aim to win business from its busy, tech-savvy residents with innovative after-hours services. GFA enjoys about a 35% market share in its home areas of Gardner, Hubbardston and Winchedon but has seen growth slowing down, and decided to expand to Rutland, one of the fastest-growing communities in the Bay State, and one that would require a new approach. “Demographics show a higher income and there’s a greater percentage of computer ownership,” says Kebby Lee, $209 million GFA’s marketing and business development officer. Plus, the CU found, its target market in Rutland is weekday commuters who leave at 6 a.m. and return after 6 p.m., creating “a recipe for after-hours services and self-service solutions such as kiosks and Internet services,” Lee says. Consequently, the new branch will combine traditional tellers and financial services associates (FSAs) with self-service technology that will be available around-the-clock, provided by a kiosk that will feature all the essential services available on the Internet, including instant loan decisions, bill pay and special services such as insurance and identity protection. The kiosks, being produced by a Rhode Island firm that creates them for big-name clients such as Home Depot, also will include an “attract loop that depicts various life stages and shows how GFA can help,” Lee says. The kiosks also will be deployed at other GFA branches and several remote locations, and they’ll not be ignored during business hours. “Members can use the traditional teller, the financial service associate or the kiosk,” says Tina Sbrega, GFA’s chief operating officer. Of course, they’ll be encouraged to use the kiosks and FSAs will be provided incentives to exceed the required number of demonstrations each month, Sbrega says. “We want employees to embrace what we’re trying to do,” she says. “We want to free our time from ordinary banking tasks so we can spend more quality time with our members and help them through the critical financial moments in their lives. “We’re looking to change staff and member behaviors.” She also is counting on the new branch, kiosk program and after-hours services to “update our image and position in the market. Other institutions offer Internet cafes, but GFA’s kiosk is more user friendly and focused on the audience.” The kiosks will offer what essentially are their own version of the GFA Web site, through functionality integrated with the CU’s core processing system from COCC, the former Connecticut Online. Richard Leone, COCC president and CEO, said his client-owned firm provided member data for the research that went into deciding on moving into the Rutland area, and said, “Going forward, GFA will use our INSIGHT core system to deliver consistent member experiences across all service channels. “This is how technology brings value to credit unions and their members alike.” [email protected]

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