CBJ Report: New tech helps banks to 'branch out'

CBJ Report

New tech helps banks to 'branch out'

While some of the nation's biggest banks are closing branches at a record pace, a new generation of financial branches is emerging in the Corridor, designed to complement customers' increasingly digital preferences.

Dupaco Community Credit Union calls its new branch at Squaw Creek Crossing in Marion its Learning Lab. A member service associate greets everyone who comes through the door, but there's no teller. Members who want to make a transaction are introduced to the interactive teller machine (ITM), where they interact, via video, with a teller based at the credit union's Dubuque headquarters.

The teller explains how to use the machine, so that even those who are uncomfortable with technology can make deposits, withdrawals and fund transfers quickly and easily.

But the real purpose of the ITM, according to Chief Marketing Officer Dave Klavitter, is to free up in-branch staff so they can educate members about things they really need, from ways to improve their credit score to applying for a mortgage or auto loan.

"Our value proposition is related to helping members with their money," Mr. Klavitter said. "So we asked, 'How do our branches revolve around this?'"

The answer can be found in more collaborative spaces, including a standing table with a large computer screen and another with tablet computers that's used to explain mobile banking technology.

The exterior walls that address the busy intersection of highways 13 and 151 are covered with sage glass, which darkens in the sunlight for reduced glare and heat absorption. At night, the expanse is crystal clear, allowing passing drivers to see the lighted signs and features within. The metal-paneled exterior is adorned in bright colors, including a festive color band intended to underscore the credit union's desire to reach people from all cultures and walks of life.

"We don't build as many branches as we used to," Mr. Klavitter said, "so when we do, they have to act a little like billboards."

DigitalMint launches bitcoin teller services in Cedar Rapids

DigitalMint, a Chicago-based cryptocurrency provider, is partnering with EZMoney Check Cashing locations across Iowa - including two in Cedar Rapids - to offer the first bitcoin teller services in the state.

The company announced today it is opening 17 teller window locations in the state, enabling Iowans

"Expanding our bitcoin services into Iowa is a big step toward empowering consumers that have been underserved by the limitations of the current financial system," said DigitalMint CEO Jonathan Solomon in a release. "We are excited to provide our Iowa customers with fast, affordable and reliable access to bitcoin."

Similar to a traditional bank teller, bitcoin teller windows allow consumers to exchange U.S. dollars for bitcoin. In addition to Cedar Rapids, the newly-launched teller windows are located in Des Moines, Davenport, Dubuque, Waterloo, Sioux City, Ames, Ankeny and Council Bluffs.

In addition to teller windows, DigitalMint also sells bitcoin through their nationwide network of ATMs and an online trading desk.

Founded in 2014, DigitalMint allows consumers to purchase bitcoin and other cryptocurrency through physical kiosks and teller windows. The company sells cryptocurrency through 200 brick-and-mortar locations across the U.S. as well as partnering with financial service centers, convenience stores, grocery chains, gas stations and other retail locations.

Plans for 2019 RUN CRANDIC marathon include IC start

After a successful inaugural event, organizers of the RUN CRANDIC marathon and half-marathon have announced the race will return on April 28, 2019.

After starting out in Cedar Rapids and ending in Iowa City during the inaugural edition, RUN CRANDIC will begin next year in Iowa City and end in Cedar Rapids.

The University of Iowa Community Credit Union is returning as the lead sponsor of the race.

Early registration will open at noon on Oct. 22 at Details of the routes will be announced in early December.

The inaugural race drew more than 3,000 runners from 23 states and three countries, and raised more than $57,000 for the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Community School Districts. It is organized in part by Think Iowa City, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Corridor Running.

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