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The History of the Credit Union

Today, credit unions are widely popularized across the United States with over 5,000 federally insured credit unions. According to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) these credit unions currently serve more than 120 million members. Though highly favored in today’s financial world,  how far back does this concept of communal lending really date? Keep reading to discover how the very first credit union made its way west and the impact on our modern notion of financial lending.

Humble Beginnings

1848 — Two men in Germany, Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and fellow countryman Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, worked together to form the first ever credit union. Franz organized a cooperative of mills and bakeries who all agreed that if smaller businesses combined their finances it would allow for greater buying power. They were definitely onto something there. 

1909 — It wasn’t until April 6, 1909, when the first Credit Union crossed over to American Shores, thanks to Edward Feline. St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association was started in Manchester, New Hampshire, striking a movement that began to gain momentum throughout the country. St. Mary’s still stands today, over 100 years later as St. Mary’s Bank.

Starting a Movement

1933 — After gaining rapid popularity, credit unions began establishing themselves all across the United States. By the early 1930s, 38 states and Washington D.C., enacted laws making it possible for credit unions to receive federal recognition and national acceptance. 

1934 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law. This created an agency within the federal government to regulate credit unions, creating a system of not-for-profit cooperatives to promote financial practices. 

1970 — The public began showing even more interest in the movement and were eager to join their local establishment. Thus, in March of 1970, The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) formed. The NCUA insures deposits at federally insured credit unions, protects the members who own credit unions, and charters and regulates federal credit unions.

Today’s Impact

1954 – 2003 — Just like its predecessors before, and the ones that have come after, Greater Niagara Federal Credit Union was built on the grounds of people helping people. Founded over 60 years ago, Greater Niagara Federal Credit Union is the result of a long list of mutually beneficial mergers between small seg-based credit unions in Western Niagara County. In 2003, the credit union expanded its charter to serve all of Niagara County.

2020 – 2022 — In 2020 the charter was expanded even further to include Erie County. Today, anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school, or conducts business in Erie or Niagara County is eligible for membership to Greater Niagara FCU! 

Apply to become a Credit Union Member here: https://www.mobicint.net/gnf/openAccount/start

The Future Is Greater

If over a century of history has proven anything, it’s that at its core the concept of credit unions continue to find roots in the idea of community-centric ownership. At Greater Niagara FCU, we’ve been making history for decades and plan to continue doing so in the future.