ORLANDO-One person believes that one of credit unions' biggest growth opportunities in the remainder of 2013 lies in the realm of merchant services.

Ben Miles, VP, partner management, at Winchester, Va.-based First Data, was in attendance at Credit Union Journal's Grow Show here. He said that with CUs' continuing to face thin margins, merchant services is an area where credit unions can earn vital non-interest income while also expanding their markets.

"When you sign up a consumer account and get a consumer DDA, you probably have some incentives for them to automatically add their payroll, their direct deposit, and because the cash is coming there first, they're more likely to take advantage of other products and services," said Miles. "With a business account, once you've decided to go into business checking, a good 50% or more of their business ... is coming through plastic (particularly for businesses like restaurants and hotels). So to be the one who hands their merchant account, you're getting that cash flow first. So from there they're going to buy other products and services, your deposits are going to be higher, so you've got all those advantages. Higher deposits, retention-things like that."

Miles said that while some CUs have a history of working with businesses, First Data has seen more CUs entering that space recently.

"If you're going to try to attract and retain business clients," he said, "having a merchant services program is very important."

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