650,000 Americans switch to credit unions in October
650,000 people in the US moved their money from main stream, big name banks to community-owned credit unions in October this year, more than over 2010 as a whole.
This was due to the campaign from the Move Your Money Project which claims ‘…is a campaign that aims to empower individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions. ‘
The project supports individuals and organisations in moving their accounts away from large high street banks to invest in community banks and credit unions. Over the eighteen months the project has been running, they state that 4 million accounts have been moved.
October’s move seems to have been sparked by the Bank of America announcing a monthly fee of $5 on its debit card. The Bank has since scrapped this fee.
The campaign focussed partly on Bank Transfer Day, held on the 5th November, when citizens were encouraged to move their bank account, although it appears many had already done so. Nearly 86,000 people had RSVP’d the Facebook page to say they were attending the event although so far no data is available on accounts opened over the weekend.
Social media has played a very large part in spreading the word about the project. Move Your Money has an active Facebook page and Twitter is alive with mentions of the project. The Bank Transfer Day campaign was led by social media.
Credit unions in the US
There are 7,800 credit unions in the US with 86 million members (data from 2006) and the culture has been established for decades. US credit unions not only hold savings and other accounts for individuals but also make loans to local businesses.
Currently the largest credit union in the US is the Navy Federal Credit Union, serving U.S. Department of Defense employees, contractors, and families of service people, with over $45 billion USD in assets and over 3.4 million members.