Two Credit Unions in the Welsh Valleys have merged to create an enhanced financial platform for their local members.
Smart Money Cymru which has branches in Caerphilly and Tredegar, has joined forces with Islwyn Credit Union (ICU) in Blackwood in a move to strengthen the not-for-profit Credit Union movement, and help members navigate these difficult financial times.
Islwyn Credit Union will now be rebranded under the Smart Money Cymru identity. However the 850 members of ICU will see a seamless change-over giving them a wider range of financial services to call on now that it has joined with the much larger credit union.
CEO of Smart Money Cymru (SMCCU), Mark White, said he was delighted that the merger was complete. “Members in Islwyn will now have more offices they can use, improved opening hours and a wider range of financial services at their fingertips,” he said.
These include a phone app for balance-checking, access to an Engage Current Account which supports direct debits, standing orders and processing of card payments, and an online loan is being developed to make affordable borrowing simpler.
The 6000 members of the expanded CU will be able to use all three branches in Blackwood, Caerphilly and Tredegar and benefit from the services offered.
The two long-serving ICU staff in Blackwood will continue, while three of the founder Board members are set to retire after years of service to the community.
Smart Money Cymru recently celebrated 30 years, in which time it has grown into a sophisticated organisation offering a wide variety of financial services to individuals, business and charities.
“Credit Unions offer a much wider range of financial services than many people expect,” said Mr White. “The CU philosophy is to be financially sympathetic to its members and offer fair and reasonable access to finance and financial services where we can.”
Mr White explained that Credit Unions had a flexible and collaborative approach to lending to their members, different to that of a typical high street bank. “We have a broader more sympathetic policy which looks at the individual circumstances of potential borrowers. We don’t base our lending decisions on credit ratings alone, but on a wider financial picture.”
Credit Union loans are at fair and reasonable rates, and usually come with free protection insurance.
As a not-for-profit organisation, a Credit Union does not pay out its profits to third party shareholders, but returns them to its members.
Services to the local business community include payroll saving. In Wales over 140 companies take advantage of this scheme, through the Credit Union network enabling their workforce to save regularly, and to be able to apply for loans at the same time.
Credit Unions can also help their members secure rental accommodation by providing a Bond Certificate to fulfil tenancy requirements.
“We are looking forward to offering an enhanced service to the members in Islwyn and to continuing to serve other members throughout the area,” added Mr White.