Tuesday 12 December 2017

If credit unions are to evolve they must put members first


Noreen Byrne

Credit unions developed in Ireland, not from any blueprint from elsewhere but as a direct and localised response to the need for accessible and affordable credit for a large percentage of the Irish population, whose only option was often the moneylender.

The credit union was not just another choice in the marketplace but was meeting a fundamental need. Credit unions are in danger of now designing themselves as just another choice in the marketplace rather than meeting the fundamental needs of members and communities.

One place this is highlighted is in the discussion of credit union income. Although income is central to credit union survival and members are the key source of that income, the link between income and the membership does not often appear to be directly made in many credit union discussions. This often struck me as odd. These days the talk is all about risk and hence shrinking credit union income is often only discussed within a risk frame. There is a need to seriously look at future income possibilities.

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