Credit Unions Mark Unprecedented Growth 

Credit unions, financial services

Credit unions saw more than 4.4 million people join their ranks between August 2020 and August 2021, according to a recent report by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). 

CUNA says this figure surpassed the 4.1 million new members from the previous year, bringing the total national credit union membership to 130 million. 

But where does this growth come from? Thank high banking fees, creating by big banks in response to an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act that capped the fees banks can charger merchants to process debit card transactions. 

Banks passed those fees on to account holders, which in turn encouraged those consumers to seek out CUs, which typically offer lower fees. 

CU Memberships Grows Worldwide 

And credit union growth isn’t just confined to the U.S.

The World Council of Credit Union’s (WOCCU) recent statistical report shows a 29% global growth in CU membership year-over-year. 

Asia saw an astonishing 114% growth, thanks to improved reporting and data collection in India. Membership in CUs in Latin America grew by 10%, followed by a 7% rise in the Caribbean. 

WOCCU President and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde attributed the growth and membership retention in part to credit unions’ efforts to improve digital services as well as relief and financial assistance for members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit unions saw a 23% growth in assets, as well as an 11% growth in loans and 24% growth in member savings. 

What does the average credit union member look like? 

The WOCCU also conducted its first ever demographic survey of member institutions, showing a membership and leadership that skewed older and male, although results varied by region. 

  • Average member age worldwide: 45 
  • Average member age, North America: 53 
  • Average member age, Africa: 39 
  • Number of women CU members in Africa, Asia, Europe: 40% 
  • Number of women CU members, Latin America: Approximately 50% 
  • Sixty percent of European CU board directors are women, while men hold more than 70% of similar positions in Asia.

For more insights into the world of CUs, download the latest edition of our Credit Union Tracker.