Credit unions plan to open 1,300 new branches in 2022

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Credit unions plan to open 1,300 new branches in 2022

In a movement opposite to traditional banks, credit cooperatives plan to open 1,300 branches in 2022, according to a survey by FGCoop (Guarantee Fund for Credit Cooperatives), with a focus on the North and Northeast regions.

It is estimated that around 13 thousand jobs will be created in these units.

In recent years, the financial system has promoted mass branch closures, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, which accelerated the digitization of banking and payments services.

A credit union is a financial institution formed by the union of people to provide financial services to its members.

Physical proximity to the customer is part of the cooperativism business strategy. In the system, members are both owners and users of the institution, participating in the management and enjoying its products and services.

In cooperatives, they have access to the main services available at banks, such as checking accounts, financial investments, credit cards and loans. Most offer transactions with Pix, instant payment system, for example.

The fund collected the expansion projections of different cooperative systems —such as Sicredi, Sicoob, Unicred, Cressol, Ailos and Uniprime— and of the main singular cooperatives (which are outside the systems) and independent centrals.

“There is still a lot of demand for physical facilities, we have many underserved municipalities in the country, mainly in the North and Northeast. There is a lack of financial institutions in these regions”, says the president of FGCoop, João Carlos Spenthof.

Cooperatives currently serve around 600 municipalities without the presence of a traditional bank. In all, the sector has 7,500 branches and employs 71,700 people.

According to data from the Central Bank, the sector comprises 863 credit cooperatives across the country and 11.9 million members.

In 2020, the sector’s credit portfolio grew 35% (compared to 2019) and reached R$ 231.2 billion, equivalent to 5.1% of the total financial system.

​Spenthof states that branches should also be opened in large cities and capitals.

“In peripheral neighborhoods, for example, large banks are not interested. As cooperatives are not profit-oriented, we see new opportunities because we have fairer rates and tariffs,” he says.

The executive explains that the idea is for the agencies to meet more complex demands, such as investment advice, or the presentation of a project to be financed.

The most basic services must also be offered in the units, but most must be done online.

Even with the opening of branches, the cooperatives also want to expand the digital service channels, such as cell phones, tablets and computers.

“We call it physical service [junção de físico com digital]. The largest cooperative systems already have all the digital and payment channels that traditional banks offer”, says the president of FGCoop.

Spenthof says that the sector is projected to grow above 30% next year, both in the credit portfolio and in deposit accounts.

FGCoop manages the sector’s resources that guarantee operations of up to R$ 250,000.

Thus, if a cooperative closes, customers (or members) receive the amounts deposited and invested up to this limit. The remainder is calculated after its liquidation, with the sale of assets, for example, to pay creditors.

The entity works in a similar way to the FGC (Fundo Garantidor de Crédito) of traditional banks.

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