Comparative Aspect of Credit Unions Development in Retail Market in Lithuania, Poland and Ireland in the Context of the European Union
Credit unions are not-for-profit, financial co-operatives that offer lowcost financial services to their members. They are based on international cooperation and democratic principles which have remained essentially unchanged since the days of the co-operative pioneers of the nineteenth century. The first known credit union was set up in Heddesdorf Germany in 1869. Since then they have developed in two distinct but related directions. In most European countries they became European co-operative banks. These are now dominant consumer financial providers that serve the general public. In North America, a different model of financial co-operative enterprise took hold. Using, for the most part, the name "credit union" these member co-operatives a much more local and autonomous structure than their European cousins. Thev are based on a strong notion of a common bond, understood as a relationship that defines a certain unity between members. Membership of a credit union is, in fact, restricted to people who share the common bond. This is, determined, usually as either living or working in a particular locality, being employed by a particular employer, following a particular occupation or being a member of an association or society. Credit unions, as known in Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe, developed out this North American model. (fragment of text)
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