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EU credit unions discuss digitalisation


28 Apr 16

The potential of digital credit union services has been discussed at the European Parliament.

The latest meeting of the European Parliament’s Credit Union Interest Group saw Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) join representatives of the European Network of Credit Unions, including ABCUL, to consider how digital credit union services can provide consumers with greater access to loans, savings and payments services at fair rates.

European Parliament Vice President Ryszard Czarnecki MEP (Poland), Marian Harkin MEP  (Republic of Ireland) and Richard Howitt MEP (United Kingdom), the Co-Chairs and Vice-Chair of the Interest Group respectively, spoke to attendees about how increasing consumers' access to credit union services through electronic platforms like mobile banking apps presents a pivotal opportunity for increasing financial inclusion in Europe.

Members of the Interest Group also discussed the challenges of digitalisation, such as high technology-related costs, and how credit unions can overcome these hurdles using shared platforms such as that developed by Cornerstone Mutual Services in Britain.

In addition to the Parliamentary speakers, Philippe Pellé, Deputy Head of the Retail Financial Services and Payments Unit of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, made remarks concerning how recent developments in the European Union's regulatory environment on payments services is helping to pave the way for increased consumer access to digital financial services.

Michael Edwards, Vice President and General Counsel of the World Council of Credit Unions, also spoke about credit union digitalisation projects in Colombia and  Mexico, and how similar efforts in Europe can significantly increase the financial inclusion of unbanked individuals – especially in rural areas where it is often not cost effective for credit unions or banks to establish a branch office.

ABCUL Head of Policy and Communications Matt Bland attended the meeting and said: “ABCUL is proud to be the only British member of the World Council of Credit Unions and the European Network of Credit Unions, and co-operating with our international colleagues allows us access to senior European policy makers which simply would not be possible if we acted in isolation.

“British MEPs were the best represented at the Interest Group meeting, showing the breadth of support we’ve established in this country from a wide range of key politicians and stakeholders.”

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