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CUNA analyzes BTD impact on 4Q membership growth
WASHINGTON (3/5/12)--The impact of Bank Transfer Day (BTD) and all of its related activities on credit union memberships in late 2011 has been much publicized. With the release of Call Report Data for all U.S. credit unions as of December, BTD's effects now are clearly seen, said Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) chief economist.

The net increase in the number of credit union memberships in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 399,721--to 93,052,509 from 92,652,788--Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, told News Now. The fourth quarter's increase of 400,000 memberships represents 31% of the full year increase of 1.3 million. The increase in memberships in the first three quarters of the year was 892,000--or an average of 298,000 per quarter.

"Perhaps a better indication of the transfer of activity to credit unions during the fourth quarter is the change in the number of credit union checking accounts during the period, because Bank Transfer Day was spurred in part by debit fee increases by a number of large banks," Hampel said.

"During the fourth quarter there was a net increase in the number of credit union checking accounts of 737,000," he added. "Again, that is a net increase. The number of new accounts opened was of course more than that, by the number of accounts that were closed during the period. We should also note that the net increase of 737,000 checking accounts was the result of account openings by both new and existing members."

In summary, Hampel emphasizes:

  • The 400,000 net increase in credit union memberships in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 530,000 greater than the average change in members recorded in the same period during the preceding seven years.
  • The 737,000 net increase in the number of checking accounts at credit unions in the fourth quarter was almost three times the average of such growth (259,000) in the fourth quarter of the previous seven years.
  • This much stronger-than-usual growth in the number of memberships and checking accounts at credit unions in the fourth quarter of 2011 is strong evidence that BTD did indeed have a significant impact.   


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