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VOL. 127 | NO. 64 | Monday, April 2, 2012

Regions Rolls Out New Product Offerings

By Andy Meek

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Regions Financial Corp., the parent of the bank that has the second largest share of customer deposits in Memphis, has now finished a companywide rollout of a new suite of products to a new set of customers.

Regions Now Banking is the name for the mix of products the Alabama-based banking giant is using to woo customers who may not currently have a relationship with a traditional bank and who may instead use payday lenders or check-cashing services.

That new product mix includes features like the ability for customers to cash a wider variety of checks and have funds immediately available; a general-purpose reloadable Visa prepaid card; and money transfers and expedited bill-pay services through Western Union. Regions Now Banking customers also get an invite to participate in a series of free online financial education courses.

Regions is “the only large bank offering all these services under one roof,” according to John Owen, head of consumer services for the bank.

The company had already started rolling out the new services in select markets by the time 2012 began, with the goal of having the services deployed companywide by the end of the first quarter. Regions also has taken pains to point out that, according to the bank, its customers want these new offerings.

Regions customers were surveyed from December 2010 through January 2011. The goal was to profile current usage behaviors and measure interest in the kinds of banking products being considered for customers currently on the margin of the financial industry.

Regions’ survey found that one area of difference between traditional customers and Now Banking customers is that checking accounts are often the foundation of traditional banking relationships. For the latter, the foundation of the relationship is the ability to access cash and pay as you go for services.

More than 30 percent of Regions Bank customers surveyed said they’d used one or more non-bank financial services within the previous 90 days. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would likely use such services from Regions if the bank started offering them.

Regions began a phased rollout of the in-branch services from September through March. During that period, Regions Now Banking was integrated into the company’s online banking platform and ATM network.

Regions operates about 1,700 branches and more than 2,000 ATMs in the South, Midwest and Texas.

In other local financial services news, Magna Bank’s shareholders have approved a move by the bank that will essentially take the bank private.

According to president, chairman and CEO Kirk Bailey, Magna will become a private company with its de-registration filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The change from a federal savings bank to a state banking corporation is still subject to approval by the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Reserve, which Bailey estimated should come in the next 60 days.

The move is expected to result in savings for Magna that stretch into the six figures. The savings are partly the result of cutting costs associated with things like external auditors and filing fees.

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