Credit unions discuss how to go digital at European Parliament

Credit union representatives have met members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to examine how digital credit union services can help provide better services at fair rates. Those attending...

Credit union representatives have met members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to examine how digital credit union services can help provide better services at fair rates.

Those attending included European Parliament vice president Ryszard Czarnecki, from Poland; MEP Marian Harkin from the Republic of Ireland; and MEP Richard Howitt, co-chair and vice chair of the parliament’s interest group on credit unions. The group was launched in 2014 as a caucus for MEPs who support credit unions.

One of the issues discussed was how to increase financial inclusion in Europe through electronic platforms such as mobile banking apps. The meeting was told that digitisation poses a challenge to credit unions, but this can be overcome by using shared platforms.

(l-r): Pat Fay of the Irish League of Credit Unions, MEP Marian Harkin, and Hilary O'Sullivan of the Irish League of Credit Unions [photo: WOCCU]
(l-r): Pat Fay of the Irish League of Credit Unions, MEP Marian Harkin, and Hilary O’Sullivan of the Irish League of Credit Unions [photo: WOCCU]
In 2012, the Association of British Credit Unions (Abcul) launched Cornerstone Mutual Services, an organisation that provides back office services for UK credit unions to help them grow. The initiative forms part of the UK’s Credit Union Expansion Project.

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One of the speakers at the meeting was Pilippe 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. Mr Pellé believes the EU’s recent regulatory changes on payment services are 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 took part in the debate. He cited credit union digitisation projects in Colombia and Mexico, adding that similar projects in Europe could increase the financial inclusion of unbanked people, particularly in rural areas.

The meeting brought together representatives from the European Network of Credit Unions, the Association of British Credit Unions, the Estonian Union of Credit Co-operatives, FULM Savings House of Macedonia, the Irish League of Credit Unions, the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions of Poland, and the Ukrainian National Association of Savings and Credit Unions. The event was organised by the European Parliament’s Credit Union Interest Group.

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