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DES MOINES, Iowa – Despite the ongoing rush of popularity that debit cards are having, one noted card processor which works with credit unions says that too few CUs have made the leap from ATM to debit. The Members Group, a card services organization affiliated with the Iowa Credit Union League, says that keeping their members tied to ATMs means the CUs miss income that converting their ATM cards to debit cards could provide. A Visa USA survey has found that only one in four Americans carries a debit card, TMG noted, a statistic they have found largely imitated in the credit unions for whom the firm has converted ATM card portfolios to debit card portfolios. “There are a number of reasons why credit unions haven’t moved their ATM cards to debit cards,” said Chris Gunnare, senior vice president with TMG. “In some cases, the ATM card is tied only to a savings account, or members have requested an ATM card only, but these are increasingly in the minority. The increased member awareness and comfort with debit cards brings an increase in the number of debit transactions,” he added. “This means there is a new opportunity for income.” Gunnare pointed out that the “explosive growth” in debit transactions over the last five years has pointed to consumers’ willingness to use the debit card at the gas pump, grocery stores, fast food stores and pharmacies. The Members Group pointed to the experience of the $1.1 billion Premier America Credit Union which converted its ATM cards to debit cards some years ago with TMG’s help, a move which has brought the credit union only good results according to one executive. “Although we made it very easy to opt out of the conversion,” said Marge McNaught, senior vice president with the credit union, “we had a very low cancellation rate and saw significant and sustained increases in interchange income from our members use of the debit cards,” she reported.

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