Smart Money Cymru is the first Credit Union in Wales to launch an online shopping service for members.
The innovative valleys credit union is now offering its 7000 members the chance to buy cookers, fridges, televisions and a wide range of domestic goods from an online store through its new Smart Goods service.
Smart Money Cymru has linked up with supplier CSL to offer the new service to the credit union’s members. CSL specialises in offering a catalogue of over 5000 top quality goods to disadvantaged and low-income communities, working with the charity sector and local financial institutions.
Purchases are funded by loans from Smart Money Cymru, and goods are delivered direct to the customer.
New members wishing to join the Credit Union are welcome and will be able to take advantage of the Smart Goods service.
Mark White, CEO of Smart Money Cymru, based in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, explained that the service is aimed at helping people who may not have good credit records and are struggling to access finance from High Street banks and conventional lenders.
“A few credit unions in the UK offer a similar service, but we are the first in Wales to make this offer to our members and we are delighted to be in a position to launch this innovative scheme which I am convinced is going to prove highly popular.”
The move was, he said, about extending financial inclusivity. “Lending decisions are increasingly made by automated systems based on credit records. This has the effect of excluding growing numbers of people from reasonable borrowing, effectively penalising them and increasing financial difficulties,” said Mr White.
Problems with obtaining finance can make people desperate and drive them towards high-interest finance or even into the hands of unscrupulous, illegal lenders. “We work to break that cycle and provide fair and affordable finance to our members, taking a long-term, holistic view,” added Mr White.
Smart Goods loans are provided at a fixed interest rate of 3% per month. “This rate compares very favourably with rates offered by other lenders in this and similar markets and provides an affordable and ethical alternative.”
Loans for Smart Goods purchases are can be applied for online or in person at a Smart Money Cymru branch. All costs are clearly stated and explained, and there is no charge for becoming a member of the credit union.
Shopping is done via the Smart Goods website, which offers convenient ‘starter’ bundles for members moving into a new home – these include handy bedroom, kitchen and bathroom packages and others.
“It is convenient and easy to use, and our staff at Smart Money Cymru are available to support members through the loan application and making the purchase,” said Mr White.
“We believe this scheme will be extremely popular and will help a great many people in the area,” added Mr White.
“Smart Goods makes it possible for families on low incomes to purchase the products they need for everyday living.”