MADISON, Wis.-Heartland CU here did a low-key push in advance of Bank Transfer Day, and much of its activity from new members came online.

"We've seen a bit of extra foot traffic and questions from prospective members, but there weren't crowds waiting for the doors to open today," Robin Marohn, VP of marketing at the 17,000-member, $172-million credit union, told Credit Union Journal on Bank Transfer Day.

"We've taken the approach that Bank Transfer Day is really any day, not just one day," added Marohn. "Even though there's been lots of stories in the media about how quick a process it can be-and more often than not we can open a new member's account in about 10-12 minutes-it takes the member a lot longer to get that money transferred from the old financial institution. That's why we've been really urging people to get the process started online and we'll get the rest of it taken care of as quickly as possible."

New membership via online sign-ups jumped 10% to 12% in the weeks leading up to Bank Transfer Day, said Marohn, estimating that about 60% of those new members were existing members at Heartland or another CU, whereas the remaining 40% were bank customers.

The credit union offered t-shirts to new sign ups.

Because Heartland urged new members to start the sign-up process online, coupled with Bank Transfer Day's prominent Facebook presence, Marohn estimated that as much as 75% of the new business the CU was seeing was younger than the traditional credit union member. But he was quick to point out that the credit union is also in its second year of a concerted push for younger members, "so it's kind of hard to say whether it is because of Bank Transfer Day skewing younger or just because we've been skewing younger in general over the last 18 to 24 months."

'People Get It Here'
Marohn did not have statistics available specifically for Bank Transfer Day, but said HCU opened about 35 new member accounts in the weeks prior to the event. He pointed out that both because Madison is a college town and because of Wisconsin's long history of support for cooperatives, the area already has a high percentage of people involved with CUs and other co-ops. "We're unique here in Madison that there's a pretty high awareness of credit unions and financial institutions in general; people get it here."

While no funds would be transferred until Monday because the Fed was closed on Bank Transfer Day, Marohn said that "In most cases people are aware that it's not an instantaneous process. We've had a few here and there but those are the hardcore activists ... Once we explain that it won't happen until the next business day, they're fine."

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