While several banks have announced plans to reduce branch footprints in recent months, a local credit union just opened a new branch that shows one way financial institutions might change how customers interact with brick-and-mortar sites.
Littleton-based Workers Credit Union has opened a new “PlanIt” location in Lowell, a branch where members interact with technology, including an interactive hologram, for day-to-day banking, while the branch staff provides financial coaching.
The new 3,400 square foot PlanIt location opened at 1201 Bridge St. in the Centerville neighborhood of Lowell on March 29.
The interactive hologram, named “Olivia,” can answer frequently asked questions in several languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language, Workers Credit Union said in a statement. The lobby also has a humanoid robot named “Pepper,” which the credit union said “keeps the mood light and fun.” Members also have access to a video interactive teller machine.
“The technology takes the friction out of banking, so our members and staff can focus on building financial wellness,” Peter Rice, Workers Credit Union’s chief banking officer, said in the statement.
Workers Credit Union has other PlanIt locations in Hudson and Worcester, and each site has private spaces for members to participate in the credit union’s free, personalized financial coaching program, called Workers Way.
“For many people, there is a huge shame and stigma attached to the money challenges they face,” Rice said. “Workers Way is judgment free. We empower our members to make good decisions.”
All staff members are trained and certified financial coaches who meet with members one-on-one, both in person and virtually. The program includes a step-by-step process to change how members think about and manage money.
Workers Credit Union, which has about 110,000 member and $2 billion in assets, said it expects to open another PlanIt site in Shrewsbury later this year and then grow into more communities in the region.