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History of Credit Unions

What is a credit union?

A credit union is a not-for-profit financial institution that’s owned by the people who use its financial products. These members can access the same kinds of products and services as offered by a traditional bank, like savings accounts and loans. A board of directors is elected from volunteers to manage the credit union, to ensure members best interests are represented. Credit unions aim to serve members by offering competitive products with better rates and lower fees than you see with a for-profit bank. While some people may already know what a credit union is, fewer still know how credit unions got started.

How credit unions got started

Historic canal village in GermanyAccording to ASCU the first credit union was established in 1864 by Friedrich Raiffeisen in rural southern Germany. Raiffeisen believed his neighbors and friends could enjoy an enhanced standard of living, if only they had access to common funds. He suggested that all community members pool their resources so individuals in need of loans could easily access the necessary funds. Raiffeisen’s idea was well received by his community, and the first credit union model was soon established.

In 1909 Edward Filene brought the credit union movement to America. He then hired attorney Roy F. Bergengren in 1920, who soon created a more systematized concept for the credit union model we know and love today. By the 1930s the credit union movement achieved federal recognition and national acceptance with President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Federal Credit Union Act into law in 1934.

In 1970, the public’s confidence and sense of security in credit unions grew stronger with the establishment of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). This gave credit union deposits federal insurance that functions much in the way the FDIC insures bank deposits.

Credit unions today

Hands shakingToday, the credit union movement continues to grow in the path charted by its predecessors. According to Statista, these not-for-profit institutions serve more than 126 million members by always putting their members’ needs first. Credit Union of Denver strives to be a trusted partner for our members in reaching their financial goals by providing superior value, products, and service.

Learn more about the history of Credit Union of Denver here. 



Sources & enhanced by Credit Union of Denver:,had%20access%20to%20common%20funds.

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