Credit union mergers ‘likely’
THERE IS A SUGGESTION that a merger between some small credit unions may be their only route to competitiveness in the current tough environment.
Credit union stalwart Keith Bourne made the point during a recent interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY as the movement celebrated World Credit Union Day last week.
He said there was growing competition for members between some of Barbados’ 37 credit unions as larger entities relaxed their membership rules.
Bourne, a key player in the growth of Barbados Public Workers’
Co-operative Credit Union Limited (BPWCCUL), the country’s biggest credit union, explained that this “fierce competition” would make it more difficult for some of the smaller credit unions to recruit members.
He cited the high cost of technology, which he believed some of these smaller unions could not afford, as another reason why mergers might become necessary.
“What will happen,” he said, “is that some of the larger credit unions, because they have sophisticated IT systems, would have to assist small credit unions.
“So they are looking at setting up a service centre where they can do back-office work on their IT system for other credit unions.”
A credit unionist with more than 30 years’ experience in the movement, Bourne said unlike in the past when membership in the various credit unions was limited to people within that relevant group or sector, the doors of the larger organizations were being opened further, making membership more accessible for people who would hitherto not have been able to join.
“Before, the BPWCCUL catered to civil servants, Police Credit Union catered to police officers, and Teachers’ Credit Union serviced teachers.
“But then the bond was extended to relatives and friends and most credit unions now have an open bond of membership where anybody can join,” Bourne pointed out.
The retired manager of business development, planning and training with the BPWCCUL is now a consultant to the umbrella body Barbados Co-operative and Credit Union League Limited, assisting the smaller credit unions. (GC)