The fact that credit unions make up only 10% of the credit union/bank market is a sign that there is plenty of room for improvement. Research by CUNA found that 40% of consumers believe they cannot join a single credit union, as reported by CUInsight.
This low market share isn't for lack of trying. Credit unions have tried to make clear what they are about, and there has been progress. The CUNA Awareness Initiative survey found that:
- 87% of respondents liked the idea that credit unions return earnings to their members.
- 83% of respondents liked the fact that credit union boards are elected members.
- 82% of respondents liked that credit unions are not-for-profit.
A major roadblock for credit union growth is member eligibility. The process is not simple for members, with many trying to become a member only to be denied. The numbers bare this out — only 10% that applied for membership online succeeded. 30% are denied based on their credit, and 89% that are approved online fail to get the product they want.
Also, as a consumer, when is the last time you saw an ad from a credit union vs. a bank? Sites such as LendingTree, Credit Karma, Bankrate.com, and NerdWallet represent mainly banks, not credit unions. There's a reason for this — it's difficult to determine consumer eligibility.
CUCollaborate has developed a tool called creditunionmatch.com to help with consumer eligibility. The site analyzes consumer eligibility based on every credit unions' field of membership rules. It then sends the information to matching credit unions. Credit unions now have qualified leads that they can contact.
Of course, creditunionmatch.com is still quite a hurdle compared to banks. Consumers are used too fast, frictionless transactions. Need to open a checking or high-rate savings account at a new bank? No problem — fill out the online application and boom! You're instantly approved. That's the kind of transaction that will help credit unions gain more industry market share.