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‘Super credit union’ formed to combat local bank closures in Wales

06 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Smart Money Cymru CEO Mark White. Photo Nick Treharne

Martin Shipton

A new ‘super credit union’ is to be formed in Wales as traditional banks continue to withdraw from communities.

The planned merger of Newport Credit Union and Smart Money Cymru Community Bank will create the largest organisation of its kind in Wales, offering sophisticated financial services to over 15,000 members across a branch network extending through the Valleys and into mid Wales.

Smart Money Cymru CEO Mark White explained that the strategic move will bring major benefits to members of Newport Credit Union. “The 3,500 members in Newport will now be part of a larger organisation with a network of branches offering a wider range of financial services.

“We are aiming to greatly expand the membership in Newport who will find the city centre branch continues to provide a high level of personal service, as well as an extended offer of more technically advanced products for savers and borrowers alike,” he said.

Financial technology

With support from the Welsh Government, Smart Money Cymru has been investing heavily in updating its financial technology, and the merger will mean that Newport members will have access to the popular phone app, and enjoy other advantages such as fast turnaround, online loan applications, as well as being able to use the local branch network.

Smart Money Cymru currently has staffed branches in Caerphilly, Blackwood, Tredegar, Brecon, Llandrindod Wells and Aberdare.

The new entity will be under the umbrella of Smart Money Cymru, but the culture, premises and full complement of staff at Newport will be retained in a move that promises to bring considerable benefits to members, staff and the local community, says Mr White.

Smart Money Cymru Chair Alun Taylor said: “This strategic merger will create a stronger, more resilient, efficient and technically robust and competitive Credit Union with an expanded retail footprint and a geographically diverse membership base and will provide an opportunity to ensure the power and principles of co-operative banking continue to benefit our combined communities for generations to come.”

Reg Smith, Chair of Newport Credit Union, said: “We’re excited at the prospect of joining forces with Smart Money Cymru Community Bank which will create one of the leading credit unions in Wales. We are firmly on track to put our plans to the membership in early 2024, and it being 25 years since we started the Union in Newport, this seems a fitting way to celebrate our achievements.

“For both organisations, our members are at the heart of everything we do, and this opportunity would enable us to deliver the elevated financial services members expect while also growing our collective reach and deepening our impact.”

Job security

Newport Credit Union and Smart Money Cymru jointly employ 26 people as well as having the services of volunteers, and the new arrangements will mean job security for all as well as enhanced training and career prospects.

Mr White said: “As High Street banks shut their doors, the credit union movement is working to restore local banking – opening new, modern branches offering a full banking service in a welcoming environment. Unlike the traditional banking sector, credit unions offer a different approach since, being member-owned, they are constituted to benefit members rather than shareholders.

“We believe Smart Money Cymru has a key leadership role to play in supporting the Credit Union movement to respond to the financial needs of local communities in the fast-changing world of financial services. We are excited that Newport Credit Union will hopefully soon join us to expand our reach and services in the coming years.”

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David Smith
David Smith
4 months ago

This is an essential move to strengthen a growing co-operative credit union movement. Well done to all concerned.

Chris Jones
Chris Jones
4 months ago

I applaud this expansion of credit unions in Cymru. I have had direct experience of using a credit union in the US whilst working there. The most successful credit unions are those that have as members large employers (such as hospitals, local government, and third sector entities) that require their employees get paid their salaries via the credit union (condition of employment). For example, my salary would be paid into my credit union account which could then be transferred to a personal high street or online bank or stay in the account where it can accrue interest. This allows a… Read more »

4 months ago

Given the contempt shown recently by the big banks towards Wales and the language this is a very timely development. Let’s hope that the government in the Bay and our local authorities give it real support instead of sticking to the old pals act with those big banks

4 months ago

Excellent news I joined Credit Union and they’re more understanding than Banks best thing I did 😃

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