BEAVERTON, Ore.-When Rivermark Community Credit Union announced plans to shutter three branches in 2012, it quickly added it had no intention of going branchless, but was ramping up its electronic banking efforts.

RCCU, a $555-million credit union that serves 65,000 members, closed branches in Salem, Clackamas and Newberg and cited low branch traffic figures as the reason.

Now, six months later, mobile banking usage as of Nov. 11, 2012 was up 63%, online banking was up 22%, and new account opening and funding online is up 50% from one year earlier, according to Marketing Leader David Noble.

"While the numbers have changed a little bit, the overall impact of the branch closures is members are adapting to the new way of interacting with us," he assessed.

Any time a CU closes a branch there is a perception "things are not good," Noble acknowledged, "but in our case the reaction has been good."

At press time Noble said it is too early to tell about the Clackamas and Newberg branches but said it has been almost six months since RCCU closed the Salem branch and the membership drop has been only 11%, which is better than expectations.

"We thought it might be as high as 25%, but it has turned out to be better," he said. "Members are still joining in Salem, even though we do not have a physical location. We will continue to monitor the performance of those market areas. Even without a branch we still want to grow in those areas and expect to do so with our remote technology capability."

Rivermark has implemented a number of electronic initiatives, Noble said, including a switch to print-on-demand and e-mailed PDFs instead of printing brochures. In the nine months since it introduced remote deposit capture, more than 13,000 members have deposited 67,000 paper checks totaling $26 million using their smartphones.

"We have made improvements to online banking, which eventually will make opening and funding accounts online easier," he said. "Our next steps include adding person-to-person payments, which allows our members to send money using e-mail or mobile phone numbers. This will be in the first quarter of 2013."

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the credit union industry

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.