Around 1,000 new accounts were opened at the National WorkersCo-operative Credit Union(NWCCU)in the last year, buoyed by increases in customers likely turned away by the larger, risk-averse lending institutions.
That’s growth of around 18 percent, said its Chief Executive Officer Alfred Poitier, coming in the midst of what has been some of the tightest economic times in the country.
“In difficult economic times people tend to look more to a credit union,”he toldGuardian Businessyesterday.”It served us to a point, but the reality is we suffered the same major issues that the bigger financial institutions did, but we attempted to make good on a difficult situation.
“In 2010, we saw growth of 18 percent[and]we did not raise and we don’t intend to raise fees.”
His comments come as Scotiabank readies to introduce two new fees as ofMarch28. People who maintain a
balance of less than$500 will be charged$2 every month.
That’s similar to a move by FirstCaribbean in 2009, which received much protest by the public at the time.
Scotiabank is also looking to introduce a$100 satisfaction of mortgage fee, an operation fee to tie up all the lose ends once a customer’s mortgage is complete.
The new fees follow a more risk-averse approach by banks in The Bahamas, which has created an opening for smaller credit unions to increase their market share.
The NWCCU now has about 7,000 customers, said Poitier.
The credit union is now preparing to reintroduce itself to the general public again through an open house at its headquarters off the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway on Saturday. It’s in an effort to explain the benefits of becoming a member of the credit union, with new products such as Visa debit cards now being launched. That product is being facilitated through a partnership with Fidelity Bank, said Poitier, adding it will make NWCCU the first credit union to offer a Visa debit card.
“People are becoming more aware of our stability and are buying into us to be a part owner,”he said.”We are demonstrating through this open house that we are a progressive financial institution and you can put us to the test with any financial institution in the country.
“And we are completely Bahamian owned and operated.”
As of March 31, purchasing equity in the credit union will increase to around$100, said Poitier, though he maintains his institution still offers the best rates on other products and services. For example, he said NWCCU is the first financial institution to offer term deposits with a minimum opening amount of only$500 and a return rate of 5 percent.