LONDON (3/22/10)--A key British credit union bill that would allow credit unions to serve more people left underserved by the global financial crisis and to mobilize secondary capital has received Royal Assent, according to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Parliament announced the Royal Assent for the Cooperative and Community Benefits Societies and Credit Unions Act Thursday. Royal Assent--the monarch's agreement to make the bill into an act--is considered a formality but is required before the bill can become law. Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services, has worked the past 18 months with the United Kingdom's (U.K.) working group and the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. on drafting the bill. The U.K.'s Financial Services Authority (FSA), which regulates the country's credit unions, took steps to broaden financial cooperatives' abilities in recognition of their relatively stable position during the banking crisis, Grace said. The law will allow credit unions to serve a wider swath of consumers, issue interest-bearing shares, and gain access to alternative capital. Lawmakers also are increasing capital and liquidity requirements for the nation's 500 credit unions to provide greater protection for consumers, said WOCCU in a news release about the working group's proposal in November. Proposed regulations will raise the level of governance standards, increase minimum liquidity requirements for credit unions and raise capital-to-asset ratios for smaller institutions. The new regulations would be phased in over a two- to three-year period.