Market Share – Credit Unions Versus Banks: Is a Credit Union Bank the Solution?

Chaguanas, Trinidad – 18 July, 2019: The Central Finance Facility (CFF) hosted a Thought Leadership Breakfast meeting on Thursday, July 11th, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency. The theme “Opportunities for increased Credit Union market share” was based on a review conducted by the CFF on the performance of Credit Unions in the context of gain or loss of market share.

The event commenced with an opening address by the CFF President Ms. Leticia Telesford who sought to provoke the thoughts of the thirty-six Credit Union Leaders in attendance by asking “Is our current value proposition helping us gain market share?” Ms. Telesford indicated that the Thought Leadership session is a propitious opportunity for the CFF to pool ideas from the panel discussion and use these ideas to implement new strategies within the Credit Union Movement.

Following the opening remarks, JMMB CEO Mr Nigel Romano made a presentation on ‘The Impact of Financial Technology on Credit Unions’. Mr. Romano advised that Credit Unions should exercise extreme caution if considering Bitcoin but should explore the many benefits to utilising Blockchain technology. He went on to explain that Blockchain handles transactions with high accuracy and control with minimal risk. Governance for Blockchain users is upheld with the smart contracts feature. With the help of KYC (Know Your Customer) all information is available on users of Blockchain. This technology is new and nascent and the potential is still yet to be explored. He further stated that Blockchain guarantees confidentiality since there is no need to give anyone your personal information to do your accounting as everything is automated.

In his presentation, Researcher & Analyst, Mr. David Bazil began by asserting that banks are the market’s main financial institution and Credit Unions currently share a similar model, but lack access to interconnection points with the local and international banking sector. He also alluded that Credit Unions lacked the capacity to provide the type of services which banks deliver. He gave many examples of reputable cooperative banks around the world which have been established by cooperatives. He noted that there are several options local Credit Unions could utilise to establish a local Cooperative Bank and outlined the pros and cons of such. He emphasised that establishing a Cooperative Bank will connect Credit Unions to the local banking sector and the rest of the world.  Mr. Bazil strongly suggested that a Cooperative Bank is the key to increasing Credit Union market share.

Political Analyst, Dr. Winford James emphasised that Credit Unions are household driven and are distinct from banks in the sense that they are not a clearing house for cheques. However, there are many Credit Unions which offer high returns to shareholders. Such an option is easily available to Credit Union members but the opposite is the case with banks. He suggested that the CFF be converted to a Cooperative Bank and stressed that Credit Unions pool their resources with the intention of providing better services for members such as Blockchain.

After the panel discussion was concluded, the Credit Union participants engaged in group discussions about the possibilities of how market share can be increased within the movement. While there was general support for the idea of a Cooperative Bank, the consensus was that the Credit Union movement needed to pool their resources and work together to advance the movement and successfully compete with the banks.