New co-operative savings banks?

The idea of regional banks, a bank that recycles savings in the area and boosts the local economy, is one that has created a buzz in recent years. Now, there is a new co-operative society that aims to make this happen. The Community Savings Bank Association is testing public and institutional interest in all regions and nations of the UK in new banks that would offer a full and competitive service…and be customer-owned.

James M Moore, Chairman of the Community Savings Bank Association, is encouraging people to register if they have an interest in a customer-owned, co-operative savings bank for their region.

These would be the first customer-owned co-operative society banks in the UK. The rules for the new society are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

While The Co-operative Bank has an active commitment to co-operative and ethical values, including the launch of an excellent new campaign this month on financial abuse, it now operates with investor ownership and was never a primary bank that was a customer-owned society in the way that the great international co-operative banks, such as Desjardins in Canada, have been. Across Europe, for example, co-operative banks have around 20% of the retail banking market and offer a lifeline to regions that benefit from keeping money local.

 Credit union membership is growing in the UK, and building societies remain with good roots in some regions but a full financial service bank owned by customers would be something very different as an offer to what they and the mainstream banks provide.

One model is the Airdrie Savings Bank, the sole surviving and celebrated local trustee savings bank, operating in Scotland. This is says James Moore, “a one hundred and eighty years old pilot” that shows how regional banking can succeed.

The co-operative has identified the key regions it wants to explore, and is now looking for champions and potential partners, before moving to raise capital for the first of the new regional co-operative savings banks.

A short video with an outline of the programme is set out on https://vimeo.com/141783823

You can register your interest on http://www.csba.co.uk

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