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Global credit union membership passes 375 million

Credit union membership across the world increased to over 375 million in 2020, according to the latest statistical report from the World Council of Credit Unions. Credit union assets exceeded $3 trillion (£2.2 trillion) for the first time.

The annual Statistical Report provides a snapshot of credit union performance in 118 countries around the world and it’s rewarding for those of us in the credit union movement to see that more and more people recognise the benefits of our not-for-profit way of working.

The 29% year on year increase in international credit union membership was largely due to improved data reporting in India, the world’s second most populous country. Membership in India was reported as roughly 20 million in 2019, but new figures show that the country has more than 91 million members. The rest of the credit union movement grew by more than 14 million members in 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns across the globe.

Incredible challenges

WOCCU President and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde said: “On all six continents, credit unions continued to grow our movement last year despite incredible challenges by working to keep frontline staffers and members safe from infection at branch locations, while rolling out special financial assistance and relief measures to keep members solvent.

“Many credit unions also ramped up their digital services to make sure members could access their accounts and make payments remotely. All those efforts helped credit unions keep existing members and add new ones.”

The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is the global trade association for credit unions. It promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.

The latest report shows that credit union assets grew by 23% in 2020, surpassing the $3 trillion (£2.2 trillion) mark for the first time, while member savings grew at a much faster rate than credit union loans. This follows global trends in weaker demand for credit, as well as the need for credit unions to increase capital. Globally, the total amount of member savings went up by 24% from 2019, with loans increasing by 11%.

Age and gender

For the first time in 2020, WOCCU included demographic data in its report – specifically as it relates to age and gender. The data showed a large gap in the number of women involved in the credit union movement compared to men, both in terms of membership and in chief executive or board director positions.

In Asia, Africa and Europe, men account for roughly 60% of all credit union members. The numbers were more balanced in Latin America, where women make up nearly half of all members. In terms of leadership, Europe is the most gender equitable, with women accounting for more than 60% of credit union board directors and 51% of chief executives.

Kerry Hallett, volunteer Vice President of the Credit Union board, said: “London Capital Credit Union was one of the first financial institutions in the UK to sign up to the Women in Finance Charter. The charter was launched in 2016 by the Treasury to improve gender diversity in senior positions in the financial sector and, at the Credit Union, we continue to actively encourage more female members to participate at senior levels.”

Survey results also revealed that credit union members worldwide are over 45 years of age on average. North American credit union members are the oldest on average, at 53 years of age, while Africa has the youngest membership base, at 39 years.

You can view the full 2020 Statistical Report here.

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