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BOULDER, Colo. – U of C Federal Credit Union has stoked the fires of the bank vs. credit union battle even more with launch of its Better Than Banks Web site (betterthanbanks.org). It’s a moniker which, said the $670 million CU, has already proved helpful with the CU’s frontline staff in delivering a positive CU message but also has provoked a not unexpected jibe from the president of the Colorado Bankers Association The new site is part of a new ad promotion launched March 20 that seeks to prove that CUs are better than banks. “I suppose you could call it `in your face’ marketing but we felt we needed to become more aggressive in differentiating ourselves,” said Rich Jones, vice president of marketing at U of C. The unusual Web site, which is linked to U of C’s main page (uofcfcu.com), contains a list of CU advantages over banks in 17 areas ranging from lower rates on auto loans to “no binding arbitration” in corporate disputes. The new site is listed at the bottom of U of C’s home page under the title, “We’re Better and We’ll Tell You Why.” Eventually, said Jones, the link will be able to be accessed independently. “Right now this is a venture that our marketing team developed, but other credit unions might presumably try,” said Jones noting the promotion is designed to build members by accentuating bank vs. CU differences. U of C has a 67,000-member base including University of Colorado students and employees. In reacting to the Web site, Donald Childears, the CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association, said he doubted Colorado banks “should take this kind of hype very seriously.” “Look, I don’t get all wound up on something that is so blatantly a case of braggadocio, completely inaccurate and does a disservice to credit unions,” declared Childears, the staff head of the 110-member Colorado trade group. Citing what he called misleading statements, Childears said banks will match “any day” their solid position in financial education and “givebacks to local communities” against CUs. “Their statements are way off base,” he said. In Washington, Keith Leggett, the American Bankers Association’s senior economist and the leading PR spokesman for the trade group, said a check of rates on the U of C Web site shows that banks offer preferred rates. “I would have to tie up my money for 60 months with the CU to get the same APY as offered by my bank for 15 months,” wrote Leggett. “Go figure. Doesn’t sound like a great deal to me.” Among the 17 items on the Web site is a “reality check” which makes bank vs. CU comparisons with other sections covering credit cards, shared branching, CU ownership and structure and community service. “The 2,000 shared branching sites is one important advantage that we highlight,” noted Jones. The Web site debut, he said, is being timed to coincide with the opening of U of C’s seventh branch in Longmont. Jones said the Web site promotion has been in the works for several weeks and came about because “like every other credit union struggling with growth we needed something to actively and aggressively differentiate ourselves.” He said the marketing team “sat around and brainstormed coming up with a list of 17 differentiators” and so it was decided to put them down on a Web site which could be accessed by members and the public. [email protected]

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