ATLANTA — A credit union with branches in Montana has brought shared branching to that state.

According to an announcement from CO-OP Shared Branching, a division of CO-OP Financial Services, the $119 million 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union has opened two of its eight Montana branches to shared branching transactions.

“With members in all 50 states, we need to have extensive reach,” says Steve Grooms, president/CEO of 1st Liberty FCU. “Shared branching is the way to provide the walk-in, face-to-face service that many of our members desire, no matter where they are.”

Shared branching is a complement to the range of existing electronic delivery channels the credit union already has in place.

“We want to give members as many ways to reach us as possible, and branches are a key part of the mix,” says Grooms. “It helps us compete in the race to attract and retain members.”

“With nearly 3,400 locations, shared branching is third in the country in terms of branches among financial institutions, behind only Bank of America and Wachovia,” says Carroll Beach, president/COO of CO-OP Shared Branching. “Shared branching is a concept unique to the credit union movement, and it’s exciting to see this growth.”

–dmorrison@cutimes.com