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Credit Unions: A Theoretical and Empirical Overview

November 4, 2010
By Donal G. McKillop and John O. S. Wilson

In 2009 there were over 49,330 credit unions across 98 countries with more than 184 million members and approximately $1,354 billion in assets. There is a great diversity within the credit union movement across these countries.

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In 2009 there were over 49,330 credit unions across 98 countries with more than 184 million members and approximately $1,354 billion in assets. There is a great diversity within the credit union movement across these countries. This reflects the various economic, historic and cultural contexts within which credit unions operate. This paper traces the evolution of the credit union movement. It examines credit union objectives, and considers issues relating to efficiency, technology adoption, product diversification, merger, failure and demutualisation. The regulatory environment within which credit unions operate is also explored under the themes of interest rate regulation, common bond requirements, taxation, deposit insurance and capital regulation. The overview also considers demutualisation and the costs and benefits to credit unions of altering their organisational form.