Hally Haynes, President of the Barbados Credit Union League.

Persons in attendance at the launch event.

BUSINESS MONDAY: MAJOR PLAYERS

‘Credit Unions are not second-class citizens’

THE head of the umbrella body for credit unions is demanding its place in the country’s financial system while insisting these institutions won’t be considered as second-class citizens.

Hally Haynes, President of the Barbados Credit Union League, said so in no uncertain terms while addressing a function at the Accra Beach Hotel on Friday night. That function dealt with four small credit unions launching a new suite of programmes geared towards their members utilising modern technology to transact business.

The four – Prudential, Courtesy, Shamrock and St. Stephen’s – have partnered with Fintech provider, Global Integrated Fintech Solutions Incorporated (GIFTS), to provide mobile and Internet banking services to members.

In giving the feature address, Haynes said that the movement in Barbados is made up of ordinary citizens and he saw the event as timely for credit unions.

He said the event is also interesting in that the credit unions involved are not large, but they are small. Haynes remarked that Barbados is at the crossroads, given that commercial banks are withdrawing some operations. However, he stated that what Fintech has done is to provide an opportunity to have credit unions leverage technology to deliver services to members.

The League official noted that technologies are now the drivers of financial services and that any person can have access to them, even as the World Bank in its 2017 report had indicated the challenges in adopting the technologies.

Tracing the growth of the movement, Haynes said that currently credit unions represent about 23 per cent of Barbados’ gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 0.6 per cent in 1961. They also have in excess of $2.3 billion in assets, savings of $2.2 billion, and loans of $1.6 billion. In addition, the movement has recorded phenomenal growth since the early days and that putting people and working together are among the reasons for that growth and development. He also credited the movement’s growth to successive administrations in Barbados, including the tax allowances given by the Tom Adams government.

“So we are no longer an insignificant player in the system. We are demanding our place in the system and we will not be a second-class citizen,” Haynes said.

Citing other statistics, the League President pointed out that membership in the movement is almost 210 000, some three-quarters of the population of Barbados.

“Unlike commercial banks which are interested in shareholder value, we are about people,” Haynes added.

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