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Cooperation among Cooperatives

Credit unions and other cooperatives should work better together. Credit unions would win more members and growth opportunities, and cooperatives could earn billions in extra income over time by moving deposits to their cooperative cousins.

Executive Summary 

Credit unions have many cousins. In 2014, cooperatives’ assets in the United States totaled $1,754 billion (B) including (1) $346 B in nonfinancial cooperatives, (2) $1,126 B in credit unions, and (3) $282 B in other financial cooperatives that were owned, at least in part, by nonfinancial cooperatives. Utilities (with $149 B in assets) and farm-related co-ops ($83 B) are, by far, the largest non-financial cooperative sectors.

And what would happen if credit unions did more business with these cousins? Non-financial cooperatives may obtain banking services not only from credit unions, but also from other financial cooperatives, like the Farm Credit System (FCS, $260 B in assets), the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC, $20.6 B), and the National Cooperative Bank (NCB, $1.8 B), and also from commercial banks and thrifts (which, for perspective, had $15,349 B in assets).