The much-anticipated International Credit Union Day® on October 19, 2023, allowed us to celebrate the remarkable 75-year journey of the credit union movement. Credit unions, such as M for Money, have been a beacon of financial cooperation since their inception. They offer a refreshing alternative to traditional, profit-driven financial institutions, focusing on serving their members’ best interests.
The history of the credit union movement is a rich tapestry of cooperative principles. Its roots can be traced back to 1894 with the founding of The First Savings Bank in Tottenham. Even before that, in 1844, a group of Lancashire weavers, The Rochdale Pioneers, sowed the seeds of cooperative values. These principles, including voluntary membership, one member one vote, and profit-sharing, remain the bedrock of the current cooperative movement.
The movement’s growth surged in the 20th century, spreading to Europe, the United States, and Great Britain. In 1934, President Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act, setting the stage for the movement’s expansion in the United States. The 1960s saw significant growth in the UK, with the formation of the Derry City Credit Union in Northern Ireland.
In the 1970s, England witnessed the birth of many new credit unions, including the first employee credit union, The Pitney Bowes Credit Union. Legal recognition came in 1979 with The Credit Union Act, which still governs all credit unions today.
The 1980s and 1990s witnessed continued growth, and by 1990, there were 258 registered credit unions in Great Britain with combined assets of around £12.3 million. In 1981, the Credit Union League of Great Britain transformed into the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL), which M for Money proudly belongs to.
In 2002, the Financial Services Authority became the new regulator for credit unions, taking over from the Registry of Friendly Societies, marking another significant milestone in the movement’s history.
Today, as we reflect on the journey of the credit union movement, we remain dedicated to our members’ financial well-being. Our commitment to offering financial education and support remains unwavering, and we look forward to continued growth and assistance in the future. The credit union movement’s history is a testament to the enduring power of cooperation and financial inclusion.