The $834 million Unitus Community Credit Union in Portland, Ore., recently shared its ideas and success stories with Satoshi Uchida of Ibaraki University, a prominent Japanese banking expert.
Unitus Community was selected to participate in a study on the importance of relationship banking because Japanese leaders fear they are losing the connection to individuals and local communities.
Banks in Japan are becoming both fewer in number and larger in size, sparking concern that financial institutions are increasingly less personal and accountable to those they serve.
Part of the problem is that Japan is largely a cash-based society. The vast majority of the population either does not have credit or debit cards, a problem in a country where many people, especially elderly ones, still hide their cash at home. According to one estimate, about $350 billion worth of yen doesn’t circulate. The term for this hidden money in Japanese: tansu yokin. Or literally, wardrobe savings.
“It was a pleasure to meet with Dr. Uchida and share the Unitus vision for building, strengthening and enhancing the lives of those who live and work in the communities we serve,” said Unitus President/CEO Patricia Smith.