Global credit union membership increases by 29% to 375 million

Woccu reported a total of 375,160,065 credit union members in 118 countries

International credit union membership increased by 29% year-to-year in 2020, according to the 2020 Statistical Report from the World Council of Credit Unions (Woccu).

The apex puts the growth down to improved data collection and reporting in India, which revealed more than 91 million credit union members and led to a membership increase of 114% in Asia in 2020. Latin American credit unions also grew at a rate of 10%, while African and Caribbean credit unions both saw membership increases of 7%.

At global level, Woccu reported 375,160,065 credit union members across 118 countries as of December 2020, from up from 291 million in 2019.

“On all six continents, credit unions continued to grow our movement last year,” said Woccu president and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde, “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 2020 Statistical Report reveals that credit union assets grew by 23% in 2020, surpassing the US$3tn mark for the first time. The total dollar amount of member savings also went up by 24% from 2019, while loans increased by just 11%, with the difference between total savings and loans being greater in emerging and developing countries.

In a first, the 2020 Statistical Report also includes demographic data based on information from 34 member associations that took part in a survey about their members and leaders. The survey revealed that large gaps exist in the number of women involved in credit unions compared to men, both in terms of membership and in chief executive and board director positions.

For example, in Asia, Africa and Europe, men account for 60% of all credit union members, and in Latin America, women make up nearly half of all members. Similarly, in Europe women account for more than 60% of credit union board directors and 51% of chief executive officers, while in Asia more than 70% of CEOs and board directors are men. In Africa, Latin America and North America, men hold more than 60% of leadership positions.    

In terms of members’ age, the report shows that credit union members worldwide are over 45. The average member age is 53 in North America and 39 in Africa.

“There is no question credit unions have work to do when it comes to attracting more women as members and leaders” said Ms LaBorde. “Our movement must also examine new ways to make credit unions more relevant and appealing to young people. Woccu looks forward to working with our members to address these challenges and improve outcomes in these areas.”

Woccu’s report is based on country responses to its annual survey and does not include estimates for non-reporting countries.