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A Brief History of Credit Unions

With International Credit Union Day 2021 fast approaching (21 October!), we wanted to take you on a journey from the humble beginnings of the credit union movement all the way up to the present day.

We’ll also explore the history of CCU so you can see how our credit union fits into the bigger picture. Let’s begin.


How credit unions first started

In 1859, Friedrich Raiffeissen, pioneer of rural credit unions, started his first credit union society in southern Germany. By 1864, he had established the first rural cooperative lending institution, in effect the first rural credit union.

The movement grew quickly throughout America and Canada and soon began to have an influence across the rest of the world, notably in Jamaica during the 1940s, and in Ireland during the late 1950s.

In Britain, pioneers such as Robert Owen developed the ideas and values central to how modern credit unions work.

However, credit unions took longer to take off in England, Scotland and Wales, and there was no legal structure for credit unions in the UK until 1979. People who had seen the idea work in Ireland, the Caribbean, and North America were amongst the first British credit union pioneers.

Credit unions operating in Britain today are extremely varied in size, membership and the range of services they offer, but they all share a basic philosophy and set of principles with the worldwide credit union movement.

There are now around 1.4 million credit union members in the UK, including more than 400,000 in Scotland.

Worldwide, the movement has grown to over 89,000 credit unions in 117 countries, enabling nearly 260 million people to access affordable financial services.


History of CCU

1989: Registered to serve local government employees employed by Lothian Regional Council.

1994: We changed our name to Capital Credit Union from Lothian Regional Council Employees Credit Union.

2001: First Mortgage product offered to members.

2003: Transferred four credit unions into CCU.

Mid-2000s: Scottish Parliament sign up as Select Partner Employer.

2017: CCU becomes a Living Wage Employer.

2018: Reach over £33 million in assets.

2019: We celebrate our 30 year anniversary.

2020: Our 30 Acts of Kindness campaign goes live to give back to the community.

2021: We kicked off the new year with our mobile app launch. During the summer we won Best Credit Union (North) in the Consumer Credit Awards. And we’re ending this year with a launch of our new Green Loan as well as moving into a new branch in Broughton.


Now that you’re up to speed with the credit union movement, we invite you to join us in celebration next week for International Credit Union Day. This year’s theme is Building Financial Health for a Brighter Tomorrow. You can follow the day’s events by searching #ICUDay on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.


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