Statewide Federal Credit Union in Mississippi, tired of the hassles of owning and operating its own ATMs, has signed on with Dolphin Debit, the full-service ATM management company. It has left its ATM headaches behind with the cost-saving move.
Statewide FCU, based in Flowood, near Jackson, serves more than 80 employee groups – heavy on government, education, and healthcare – throughout the state. The 65-year-old credit union, with $100 million in assets, has two other branches, in Starkville and Cleveland, in addition to its headquarters branch.
In the spring of 2014, Statewide FCU decided it had enough of owning its own ATMs, and opted for Dolphin Debit’s full-turnkey management program.
“We had our own ATMs for probably 25 years, and we had come to look at them as a necessary evil, something we had to have because we have branches,” said Paul Armstrong, General Manager of Statewide FCU. “I’m not a big fan of ATMs, and it was just a business I didn’t want to be in anymore.”
Armstrong said the worst decision was buying refurbished ATMs a few years ago, thinking they would save money.
“We had lots of problems with those machines. Service people were out every week. Something was always breaking on them. We got all kinds of complaints that the machines took members’ cards, didn’t give them a receipt, or didn’t give them their money. We didn’t really care for the service we were getting, either,” Armstrong said.
Statewide FCU already knew Dolphin Debit because it and several other credit unions had been sharing ATMs at Murphy USA fuel stations in four Mississippi cities. Dolphin Debit has an exclusive arrangement to locate ATMs at Murphy USA sites, adjacent to high-traffic Walmart stores.
The Dolphin Debit model – in which Dolphin owns and operates the ATMs and credit unions or banks just lease them – sounded very appealing, Armstrong said. He emphasized that it was a move that has paid off very well.
“Since we put in the new ATMs, all we do is put money in them and all is right with the world. Dolphin Debit takes care of the operation. The machines are modern, light years ahead of what we had, and we haven’t had any complaints from members or employees.”
By moving to Dolphin Debit, Statewide FCU got new machines at each of its branches, which has been good for everybody, Armstrong noted.
“We see more usage, and the machines operate much faster,” he said. “Also, Dolphin keeps up with the maintenance, the compliance, and the regulations. That is a major burden if you own your own machines. We expect to save about $5,000 to $6,000 a year, plus the savings in employee time and aggravation, not to mention member happiness. Now employees don’t have to spend a lot of time with the ATM and can do something productive.”
Ben Allen, President of Dolphin Debit, said Statewide FCU’s experience is typical of what credit unions and banks encounter when they move from ATM ownership to ATM leasing.
“Financial institutions find that with our model, they just don’t worry about their ATMs anymore,” Allen said. “They don’t have to maintain them, service them, update them, or curse at them. We make sure the ATMs are operating correctly and doing what they’re supposed to, which is providing a valuable service to members and customers.”