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The New Bank Branch Is?In With A Check Casher?!

Market driven challenges are making strange allies of traditionally sworn enemies.

There are 6,000 check cashers in the United States, and, according to one of their spokespersons, they "?need more products, and banks have them."

Union Bank of California already has branches in Los Angeles check casher stores. National Penn Bank in Pennsylvania and Bethex Federal Credit Union in New York are both ready to take the plunge and join forces with check cashers in their area.

Bethex, which is a $5.8 million-asset institution wants to open eight branches in Bronx neighborhoods. According to administrators of Bethex, this would enable them to reach into neighborhoods it could not otherwise afford to serve. They plan to put in ATMs so customers can access their accounts, make deposits or withdrawals, but would use the check casher to cash their checks. All check-cashing fees and ATM charges would be paid by Bethex. The one financial institution employee in each store would open accounts and provide contact for any loan applications.

Many check cashers provide other services including payment of utility bills, sale of money orders, and selling prepaid phone cards. Having financial institutions on-site will enable them to furnish the additional services they cannot offer.

One critic of the evolutionary idea of branches in check cashers offered the opinion that if financial institutions want a pre-existing structure to hold down costs in opening a new facility, they should try branches in drugstores, which he claimed are as numerous as check cashers.

Copyright © 2000 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 10, No. 11, 11/00

First published on 11/01/2000

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