International Credit Union Day 2010 – 21 October
Today is International Credit Union Day.
Why are credit unions so important?
Credit unions operate differently from most high street banks. If you are a customer of a credit union, you are also a member and a stakeholder. You can have a say in how it is run.
Credit unions can provide loans to people who might not be able to get them from high street banks. They can be more flexible – for example, you may have to save a certain amount with your credit union before you are eligible to apply for a loan.
As not-for-profit cooperative institutions, credit unions use excess earnings to offer members more affordable loans, a higher return on savings, lower fees or new products and services.
Credit unions and financial co-operatives use member’s savings to finance loans to individuals and small businesses. They do not use outside sources to make money which protects them from the vagarities of the stock market, making them a safer place to put your money.
Fair access to financial services
Credit unions offer finacial services to more people than the average high street bank would. For example, people in housing associations or people with less than impressive credit ratings.
These groups are open to loan sharks or hiding their life savings in mattresses. In some parts of the world, people are forced to take long and dangerous trips just to visit the nearest financial institution.
- More than 186 million people worldwide in 97 countries belong to a credit union
- There are 22 credit unions in Wales
- The credit union movement in the US is much bigger than the UK
- There are 2,949 credit unions in the US, the top one has assests of $24 billion
- In the US, business is routinely financed by credit unions
- Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are sometimes cited as the pioneers of credit unionism and have many Co-operative Banks
- The European Association of Co-operative Banks reported 34 million members in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands at the end of 2005