Today marks the 70th annual International Credit Union (ICU) Day, celebrating the spirit and endeavour of the global credit union movement. The event serves to recognise the history of credit unions, encourage the virtues of saving and responsible lending, and give union members around the world the opportunity to come together and share their insights and experiences.
What is a credit union?
They are community savings and loans providers, whose members can borrow from pooled deposits at lower rates of interest. Last year there were over 300 in Great Britain alone, with collective memberships of almost 1.3 million people.
By tradition, they are small, not-for-profit cooperatives, set up and run by like-minded members for the benefit of their community. In recent years, however, credit unions have developed at least some form of commerce, be it commercial premises or online marketing and product sales. They can provide a lifeline for those who may not be able to access other means of lending and, in today’s society, they provide a much-needed alternative to doorstep lenders and payday loan companies. In short, it’s a concept which allows members of a financial community to ‘benefit, mutually, without profiting third-party shareholders’.
To become a member of a credit union, you generally need to share a ‘common bond’ with other union members, though membership can often be retained if that bond is relinquished for any reason – be it a house move or job switch, etc.
How can I get involved in #ICUDay?
ICU Day aims to raise awareness surrounding the service that credit unions provide around the world, giving people like you the opportunity to get involved. So, join the global credit union family in a day of celebration, and learn more about the international movement. Use the hashtag, #ICUDay, to share your photos, videos, stories and marketing materials across social media.
To find out more, or to discover how you can get involved, visit the World Council of Credit Unions’ website. Oh, and just in case your boss owes you a favour, the 2019 World Credit Union Conference takes place next July … in The Bahamas.