Today, on the occasion of the International Credit Union Day, I wanted to take a moment to revisit the history of the credit union movement in the United States & truly appreciate the large-scale impact it has had on the various communities & the country as a whole. It is astonishing to note that these community-oriented, non-profit institutions are helping over 43% of the United States’ economically active population today. In today’s capitalistic world, it is heartening to see the sense of community thrive.
The credit union movement began with the simple idea that people could achieve a better standard of living for themselves & the whole community by pooling resources and making loans to other members of the community.
Alphonse Desjardins, one of the most instrumental people in bringing the CU movement to the United States, saw that working-class families did not have access to affordable credit. This led to the first Credit Union opening its doors in the United States in 1909.
The movement started gathering pace under the stewardship of Edward Filene and Roy Bergengren who were convinced that cooperative credit would thrive in the United States.
In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, creating a national system to charter and supervise federal credit unions. With this, the Credit Union movement gathered pace as it enhanced the public’s confidence in the credit union movement, and it continued to spread across the country and by 1952, the number of credit unions grew to over 12,280.
In 1970, that sense of security grew stronger when the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) was established. Credit union deposits gained federal insurance that functions much in the way the FDIC insures bank deposits.
With the credit union movement growing at its most rapid pace, prospective members flocked to join the new member-owned financial institutions being established all over the United States. Between 1970 and 1979, credit union assets in the United States tripled.
In 1977, another credit union-friendly regulation was signed into law, empowering credit unions to offer more services and products to their membership. Then, in the 1980s, in addition to the increased services offered, Credit Unions became more flexible in accepting members and serving larger communities. In 1985, Credit Unions insured by the NCUSIF were backed by “full faith and credit of the United States Government” which provided extra security to members.
Today, the credit union movement continues to thrive in the path charted by its predecessors. These not-for-profit institutions serve more than 103 million members by always putting their members’ needs first and helping them achieve their personal goals through sound financial practices and targeted advice. With the majority of Credit Unions adapting quickly to evolving member needs with respect to technology & service levels, credit unions will continue to thrive well into the future.
This year’s theme for the International CU day of “Inspiring hope for a global community” reflects how credit unions continue to contribute to a brighter future by providing financial empowerment to their communities. It is very humbling to see the different ways in which credit unions are uplifting the communities they serve.
Hailing from a family that has scaled a Credit Union from scratch to billions in assets, I have had a unique opportunity to experience the importance of such an institution, the impact it can have on the community & the day-to-day challenges, firsthand. Furthermore, because of the way CUs are structured, the wealth stays within the community and aids in fighting one of the biggest problems in our nation, wealth inequality. These experiences were key drivers to set up Interface.
There would not be a better day than today for me to share our mission and vision.
Our mission is to empower every Financial Institution to efficiently help their customers & members to achieve financial wellness.
Our vision of helping Financial Institutions leapfrog from Digital to Intelligent Banking, through the power of AI, will enable us to together accomplish the mission.
Every day, we at Interface are privileged to be moving forward with a strong purpose, creating significant impact to communities around us, while working on cutting-edge technologies and seeing the company grow quickly.
We believe this is just the beginning of something great.
Wish you all a happy International Credit Union day!