Following the sad news that Airdrie Savings Bank is to close, the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) has pointed to Scotland’s thriving credit union sector as evidence that local banking is still very much alive and well.
ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “Across Scotland, almost 100 credit unions are providing savings accounts and affordable loans to more than 387,000 people. Last year, the sector’s deposits, lending and assets all grew by 8%, and Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe.
“Of course, credit unions must keep pace with what consumers expect from their financial service providers, which increasingly means instant access and control of our money via mobile devices.
“For smaller players like credit unions, the infrastructure to deliver this is often out of reach unless we act together to achieve the required scale. That’s why a number of credit unions in Scotland and across Britain are working co-operatively to develop and deliver the products, services and access channels that modern consumers expect.
“This way, credit unions can ensure a competitive, sustainable local banking option is always open to Scottish consumers as part of a healthy, diverse financial services sector.”
The latest figures from the Bank of England (as at 30 June 2016) show there are 99 credit unions in Scotland serving more than 387,000 people, including 56,000 junior savers. Credit union members have savings worth £484 million and are borrowing £296 million, often at lower interest rates than are available for the same loan from other lenders. The Scottish credit union sector’s assets are worth £562 million.
With 7.2% of the Scottish population using a credit union, Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe, after only the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland.