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Wales credit union breaks lending records

Smart Money Cymru in Caerphilly.

Smart Money Cymru Credit Union  has broken all lending records as it helps its clients deal with the fallout of Covid 19.

The Credit Union, with offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, has recently merged with two other smaller Unions and is now upgrading its systems and business model to help all its customers access fair and equitable financial services.

Loan applications can now be made online, and CEO Mark White believes this has contributed to the upsurge in lending, encouraging people to come forward and take advantage of the beneficial terms the not-for-profit Credit Union can offer its members.

“We take a more overall view of applications for loans than high street banks and other institutions,” he said. “We have sound lending criteria, but tend to look at the whole position of the potential borrower, rather than simply information from credit reference agencies and a checklist of questions.

“People seem to prefer applying online and making this easier has certainly encouraged more people to take out Smart Money loans,” added Mr White.

Smart Loans, up to £7500, can be used for virtually any purpose such as buying a new car, household items, holidays or a wedding. Many Smart Money members are using the affordable loans to refinance other, more costly, debt that may have built up.

The credit union, which recently celebrated 30 years of helping the community, is upgrading its IT systems to make processing faster, and this is now benefitting all its 6500 members including new members from recently merged Islwyn Credit Union and the Plaid Cymru Credit Union, which came under the Smart Money umbrella in 2020.

Benefits to members include a phone app for balance-checking, access to an Engage Current Account which supports direct debits, standing orders and processing of card payments.

Over a £1 million of fresh loans have been made since September 2020 breaking previous records for the period, and Smart Money Cymru’s loan book now stands at £2.4 million.

More and more people are turning to credit unions, particularly in these difficult times.  “Credit Unions offer a much wider range of financial services than many people expect,” said Mr White.

Credit Union loans are at fair and reasonable rates, and usually come with free protection insurance.  As a not-for-profit organisation, a Credit Union does not pay out its profits to third party shareholders, but returns them to its members.

Services to the local business community include payroll saving. In Wales over 140 companies take advantage of this scheme, through the Credit Union network enabling their workforce to save regularly, and to be able to apply for loans at the same time.

Credit Unions can also help their members secure rental accommodation by providing a Bond Certificate to fulfil tenancy requirements.