At a time when most financial institutions routinely issue debit cards, Radford Pipe Shop Employees Federal Credit Union began doing so for the first time earlier this month, Jettie Montgomery, the credit union's treasurer, tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. The Radford, Va.-based credit union began issuing a MasterCard-branded debit card Aug. 1 after many of its 4,000 members said they wanted one, Montgomery says. "We survey members in our newsletter, and they told us that a debit card was the No. 1 item they wanted," he says. "We also heard by word of mouth." The credit union long has offered checking accounts, but the number of accounts remained unchanged at 1,500 for the past two years, which Montgomery blames on the lack of a debit card. More members are opening checking accounts because of the debit card, Montgomery says. "I can't provide you a number because we have not reported yet," he says. Organizers formed the credit union in 1937 to serve employees of Radford Pipe Shop, which stopped making pipe in 1975. The steel company has been bought and sold several times, and the institution responded to the changes by expanding its charter to serve Radford city employees, schoolteachers and hospital workers, Montgomery says. "The debit card has made us more competitive with other credit unions," he adds.