The world's third largest credit union movement celebrated its 50th anniversary Sept. 7 in the Republic of Korea. Currently, 1,000 credit unions in South Korea serve five million members, according to a World Council of Credit Unions release.
South Korean credit unions operate as individual, member-driven financial cooperatives, but their position in the markets they serve rival those of the largest banks. Like credit union movements in Brazil and Poland, a strategy of common signage and similar products and services have been remarkably effective in South Korea.
"South Korea's credit unions serve as an excellent example for credit unions around the world of how a collaborative and unified approach to both front-office and back-office operations can truly propel an entire system to new levels of efficiency and reach economies of scale," said Barry Jolette, WOCCU chairman/CEO of the $600 million San Mateo Credit Union.