CINCINNATI-A new, high-rate checking account is helping Kemba CU sign up new members and retain them.

Kemba CU credits service and convenience for significantly contributing to its 10% net member growth over the past two years. Now Kemba's new "Get Green" Checking has been added to the mix, and it's getting results, CEO Steve Behler reported. KCU plans to "push the heck" out of the account that paid at press time 3.5% APY on balances up to $25,000. "Members who joined last year are jumping all over this, and we are attracting just as many new members from it, too," the CEO stated.

To get the high rate, the no-minimum-balance Get Green Checking requires members to perform 12 debit transactions per month, take direct deposit and e-statements, and use home banking once a month. Members who do not meet all requirements in a month are paid the standard .15% checking rate.

Out of 20,000 checking accounts the $450-millon Kemba has at present, 3,000 are Get Green, and the average balance is $4,000. "We think we can get that to $6,000 to $7,000 within the next year," Behler said.

According to Behler, branch expansion has also helped attract and keep members. Just this month Kemba added its 11th location, and has been adding a branch about once a year for the past four years. "I know online is important to members," Behler said. "But there still is a large base of members who feel convenience also includes physical locations."

Behler believes Kemba's branch growth strategy and continuing emphasis on excellent service are well suited for an economy in which the banks continue to stub their toes. "There are only four things I ask employees of Kemba Credit Union to do: Show up on time, give 100%, have fun, and then go home and be with the family," Behler explained. "I know this is just a job, but it should be a place where you really enjoy what you do. If employees enjoy what they do, that transfers over to how they treat members. Member service is the no. 1 priority at Kemba, and will help us keep the new members we are getting."

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