AKRON, Ohio (8/6/13)--Some credit unions are merging to gain financial strength and provide value for members, according a July 29 Akron Beacon Journal article.
The number of Ohio credit unions has decreased 12.5% during the past five years, falling to 356 this year. The numbers mirror a nationwide decline, and are the result of widespread industry consolidation and not credit unions simply shutting their doors, the article said.
Nationwide, the number of active credit unions peaked at 12,977 in 1970. Last year, there were less than 4,300.
The industry consolidation has helped and not harmed consumers, experts say, with more members having access to ATMs, online banking, business loans and even phone apps than ever.
In nearly all cases mergers are to the benefit of members, said Patrick Harris, the Ohio Credit Union League's director of media and public relations, told the Beacon Journal.
Credit union membership and assets are growing, as the remaining credit unions are becoming stronger.
Membership rose from to 2.7 million from 2.6 million and assets climbed to $24.4 billion from $19.3 billion over the same time.
Credit unions are merging to survive and add value, Rose Bartolomucci, president of Towpath CU in Fairlawn, Ohio, told the Beacon Journal. Towpath CU merged with TeleCommunity CU in 2011.
Some smaller credit unions, overburdened by regulations, struggle to keep pace with technology aid Michael Wettrich, deputy superintendent for the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Financial Institutions.