RIVERSIDE, Calif.-A second chance checking account offered earlier this year by the $674-million Altura Credit Union has proved quite popular.

Altura's "Reliance Checking" debuted Aug. 6 and was designed to help those with negative reports on ChexSystems reestablish a relationship with a traditional financial institution.

Jennifer Binkley, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Altura, told Credit Union Journal as of Dec. 5 Altura members had opened 183 accounts with a total of $165,487.20 in balances.

"This is just 121 days," she noted. "We expected a slow growth rate as we do not advertise this account externally nor have we had a marketing campaign for the account. Instead we are using it as an option if a member is trying to open a checking account with Altura but has a ChexSystems record."

Other "initial surprises" Binkley reported include the fact average balances for Reliance Checking, which were projected to be $322 given the demographic patterns and need for a transaction account, have instead been "significantly higher" at $904.

"These members are signing up for payroll direct deposit at a higher rate than expected, and we have noticed many of the transactions are for items that require a debit card to engage in, such as Amazon, iTunes and Redbox," she said. "It is fulfilling to be able to offer a product to our community that assists people in rebuilding their checking history and provides access to products and services our members want.

Binkley said Altura tracks Reliance Checking accounts daily for any overdrawn amount or red-flagged activity.

"We have made small adjustments to the monitoring process," she said.

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