What is a Credit Union?
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives serving members who share something in common-employment, association membership, or residence in a particular geographic area. This credit union serves the employees and retirees of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and their families. Over 85 million U.S. consumers are member-owners of and receive all or part of their financial services from the nation's more than 9,000 credit unions.
Philosophy & Structure
Credit unions are democratically owned and controlled institutions based on 'people helping people' principles. Credit union boards of directors are elected by the members; each member has an equal vote, regardless of how much he or she has on deposit. Only members may serve as directors, and directors serve without compensation. Credit unions have no outside stockholders, so after reserves are set aside, earnings are returned to members in the form of higher dividends on savings, lower loan rates and lower cost services.
Regulation & Supervision
Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Credit Union was chartered under state law, and is regulated by the Kansas Department of Credit Unions. The National Credit Union Administration, governed by a three-member board appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is the independent federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions. NCUA, with the backing of the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, operates the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), insuring the savings of 70 million+ account holders in all federal credit unions and many state-chartered credit unions. No taxpayer money is used for regulating and overseeing federal credit unions, as all activities of NCUA and the NCUSIF are funded by credit unions.
Credit Union History
Credit unions began as an idealistic, yet practical experiment. The concept was simple: People should be able to pool their savings and make loans to each other. The experiment proved successful, when in Germany in 1849, a depression crushed townsfolk and farmers alike. One mayor, Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, organized the first credit union. He rallied the villagers to pool their savings and lend to each other at low interest rates. “We must help ourselves,” he said. “It is not necessary at all to look for help from outside.”
As the 20th century began, the credit union idea surfaced in Canada. Alphonse Desjardins was a Canadian reporter outraged that “poor borrowers had been obliged to pay to infamous usurers rates of interest amounting to several hundred percent for the most insignificant loans.” In 1900, he founded the first credit union in North America, in Levis, Quebec.
Canada's successful efforts profoundly influenced two Americans: Pierre Jay, the Massachusetts banking commissioner, and Edward A. Filene, a Boston merchant. These two men helped organize public hearings on credit union legislation in Massachusetts, leading to passage of the first state credit union act in 1909. Filene said, “ . . . a hundred individuals, acting individually, cannot possibly generate the money power which might be at their disposal if they were to act collectively within a credit union.”
In the early 1950’s, an employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas named Francis Woods kept a small metal cash box in his desk drawer. If a coworker or friend was running short, Francis would loan them enough cash to get by until the next payday. From these simple roots, came the organization and official chartering of the Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Credit Union in July of 1953. Since that time, the idea's guiding principles have remained the same: (1) Only people who are credit union members can borrow here; (2) loans are made for 'prudent and productive' purposes; (3) a person's desire to repay (character) is considered as important as the ability (income) to repay. Members are, after all, borrowing their own money and that of their friends. These principles still govern most of the world's credit unions.
The mission of the Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Credit Union is to provide competitively priced financial services for members, with the added value necessary to achieve financial growth and maintain a sound financial position.