Credit Unions: Innovating for Member Benefit

Credit unions across North America offer a compelling alternative to large national and multinational banks, thanks to their member-owned, not-for-profit ethos. With this difference, they can focus not on maximizing shareholder returns, but on delivering value to their members. This translates into tangible benefits such as lower interest rates on products like loans and credit cards. For the latter, that can be 8 or 10 percentage points lower than larger banks. Likewise, credit unions often have more favorable terms on savings and investments. The member-first approach sets credit unions apart, providing a clear advantage for those seeking financial services that genuinely meet their needs.

Empowering CU Members with Value

The agility of credit unions is another key strength. Unlike their larger counterparts, credit unions can be quicker to adapt to market changes, introducing new products and services to meet the changing demands. In an environment where consumer preferences shift rapidly, this is of real value.

Currently, a notable trend is the resurgence of international travel. With travel numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels, and this  year likely to exceed 2019 numbers, there’s a growing demand for convenient and cost-effective travel money solutions. “Traditional” methods of exchanging currency, such as queuing at bank counters or paying premium rates at airport kiosks, no longer align with the expectations of modern travelers. They seek simplicity, efficiency, and value—a combination that credit unions are uniquely positioned to provide.

Adapting to the Resurgence of Travel

Recognizing the importance of meeting this demand, many credit unions are on the trail of a suitable solution. The ideal vehicle will fit neatly with the way credit unions function, streamlining travel money services for convenience and cost-effectiveness. It will enable credit union members to easily manage their travel currency needs through a user-friendly platform. It will integrate seamlessly with their existing online banking services. Members need to access competitive exchange rates and arrange for their travel money with just a few clicks, then collect it as it suits them.

For credit unions themselves, adopting a streamlined travel money solution means freeing branch staff from the complexities of the paperwork often associated with foreign currency transactions. This allows them to focus more on member engagement, perhaps with the opportunity to promote additional services. Behind the scenes, everything should be designed around keeping processes fast, efficient, and cost effective. A perfect example? Automatically ordering a currency that’s not in stock in-branch

Seamless Travel Money Solutions

This is where Money 4 Travel from Essiell opens up opportunities. It embodies all the attributes necessary for a travel money service that meets the dual needs of convenience for members and operational efficiency for credit unions. By adopting Money 4 Travel (it sits comfortably on existing systems), credit unions can offer a superior service that meets the current demand for hassle-free access to foreign currency. At the same time, it reinforces the value proposition of credit unions in providing member-focused financial solutions.

Making a Difference for CU Members

Credit unions have a unique opportunity to leverage growing demand for international travel and simultaneously serve their members better. By partnering with solutions like Money 4 Travel, they can offer an enhanced service that aligns with their values of member benefit and community service, further distinguishing themselves from their larger banking competitors and strengthening their position in the financial services sector.


By Declan Morton, staff writer at Money 4 Travel and Essiell Ltd.


For reference:

Global Air Travel Demand Continued its Bounce Back in 2023, IATA, 31 January 2024

Advisory Bulletin, Airports Council International, February 13, 2024

Why More People Are Using Small Banks and Credit Unions, Kiplinger Personal Finance, February 20, 2024

Ask the Money Lady – Credit Unions vs. Banks, The Carillon, February 11, 2024

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