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Nancy Feig
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Michigan First Credit Union Uses High-Tech Banking Centers From IBM

CU aims to automate teller functions to offer fast, convenient services for its members.

Michigan First Credit Union (Lathrup Village, Mich.) has selected IBM to provide "electronic-banking" centers that allow its members to do their banking in a faster, more convenient way. The banking centers were first deployed in February 2004, says Michael D. Poulos, Michigan First's president and CEO.

While similar in appearance to ATMs, Michigan First's MoneyWorks Banking Centers (MWBC) provide most of the services offered by a teller such as cashing checks to the penny, making loan payments, getting receipts, transferring funds between accounts, getting printed copies of statements, and making deposits with checks, cash or coin. All transactions are posted to accounts immediately. People who are not members of Michigan First can also use the banking centers for regular ATM services.

"We had been looking for a way to automate our teller transactions with an emphasis on dealing with both cash and coin transactions," Poulos says. "The banking centers were a perfect fit because they effectively handled checks, cash and coin within one easy transaction flow."

The MoneyWorks machines cost about $50,000, compared to an average of $25,000 for a traditional ATM, according to IBM, but the extra investment quickly pays for itself, Poulos says. "A major objective of ours is to save our members both money and time," he relates. "The banking centers save us money by not having to staff as many teller windows. In addition, the transactions take less time at the banking centers. This saving of time in addition to the savings of teller salaries makes it worthwhile to us." Poulos says that members who require assistance from a teller can wait an average of seven to 10 minutes, while members using the Credit Union's MWBCs spend about three minutes completing their transactions.

Michigan First currently serves 73,000 members including employees, students and retirees of numerous school districts, universities and colleges, and other educational groups in the Detroit metropolitan area. Currently, Michigan First has nine banking centers in its branches, with two more on order for one of its Detroit branches. According to the Credit Union, the MWBCs average 25,000 transactions per month or 300,000 transactions per year.

So far, customer feedback has been positive, Poulos says. "Members love the banking centers and have been seen bringing their friends or coworkers to show them how they work," he says. "We often see members standing in line to wait for a machine to open up, even though a teller window might be open."

IBM worked with Wincor Nixdorf to customize the advanced ATM technology used in the MoneyWorks Banking Centers. IBM coordinated the integration of these units into the Michigan First environment by building and customizing them to meet the Credit Union's requirements before shipping the machines. Upon arrival, the units are sent to a central location and deployed to the designated Michigan First location for installation and integration into the Michigan First network.

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