Small banks and credit unions are often known for their personalized customer service and community involvement. Recently, dozens of community banks and credit unions took that ethos to a new level as they participated in a nationwide public relations campaign, pumping free gas for consumers in nearly 40 gas stations across the country.
The "Take Back Your Banking" event, held August 28 and 29, was sponsored by Kasasa, a turn-key, high rewards free checking account product from technology vendor BancVue. Kasasa works exclusively with credit unions and community banks. All the financial institutions that participated were Kasasa customers.
The second annual event was designed to allow representatives from these smaller financial institutions to get directly in front of consumers and pitch the benefits of credit union or community bank membership.
Over 30 banks and credit unions participated in 38 cities across the U.S. and gave about 7,800 customers free gas. The offer was limited to $20 in gas, and was available to the first 200 people that showed up at designated gas stations between 9 and 11 am. Banks and credit unions that partnered with BancVue spoke about the Kasasa rewards programs.
One of the banks that participated, Minnesota-based PioneerBank, saw some immediate results by participating in the event. Four of the customers that got free gas pumped by PioneerBank employees during the event went straight to the PioneerBank across the street from the gas station in North Mankato, Minn., according to the CEO of PioneerBank, David Krause, who was greeting customers at the gas station.
“I was the first one to talk to them and explain to them what we were doing and then directed them on line so they could get their gas pumped,” says Krause. “We gave them a couple of other trinkets and giveaways, along with the Kasasa account brochure. We had our personal bankers there explaining our advantages as the gas in being pumped in the car.”
BancVue’s clients can offer the Kasasa checking account as an alternative product that competes with offers from big banks says Krause. PioneerBank wanted to focus more on gaining deposits and rely less on brokered deposits and Federal Home Loan Banks’ advances to fund their loan demand. The bank became a client after meeting with a BancVue representative and attending an information session hosted in Texas. In three years, deposits at PioneerBank have grown by 3,200 Kasasa accounts.
BancVue developed Kasasa after conducting research in 2009 that showed consumers want the service of a community bank with the products offered by big banks, says Gabriel Krajicek, CEO of BancVue.
Krajicek says that the point of developing Kasasa was to keep the brand of each community bank partnered with BancVue but offer a consistent high-rewards product to the consumer without hidden fees.
“If all the Kasasa institutions were one institution, they would have the 11th largest branch network in the country,” says Krajicek.