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SYDNEY, Australia – Abacus began its first day of official business July 1st. The new trade association is a combination of two industry associations for co-operative financial services that could be considered rivals, but want to do more for their members by working together. The Australian Association of Permanent Building Societies (AAPBS) joined with the Credit Union Industry Association (CUIA), a division of the Credit Union Services Corporation of Australia Ltd. (CUSCAL), to form The Association of Building Societies and Credit Unions (Abacus). Building societies are financial institutions, owned by members like credit unions and specializing in mortgages but offering other banking services. This form of co-operative banking began in 19th century Britain and migrated to Australia as more and more people moved down under. Abacus will represent 135 members, which covers most of the 148 credit unions and nine mutual building societies in Australia. Their combined assets are AUS$50 (US$37.6) billion and they service over 4.5 million members out of a population of 20 million. The new organization will work with federal and state governments, the regulators, industry and consumer groups, the media and whoever else wants to communicate or do business with this type of business. Their services will include compliance, training, legal advice, research and public affairs. Adrian Lovney, the general manager of the new group, pointed out that there are a number of regulatory and legislative challenges facing the industry including the Basel II Capital Accord. Speaking about the new trade association, Lovney said. “Abacus draws together the great co-operatives of Australian banking, a strong and diverse industry with extremely high customer satisfaction and a natural community focus.” Their first convention will be held in Perth in October. [email protected]

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