The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which was formed in 1970, is an independent federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions.
A federal credit union is a nonprofit cooperative financial institution that is owned and operated by its members. Members rely on funds that each member deposits and use these funds to create member loans at reasonable rates. Each credit union is governed by a volunteer board, which is elected by the members. Today, the NCUA supervises over 9,500 federally insured credit unions, which serve over 80 million accounts. The cooperative nature and affordable rates that credit unions provide help members gain access to capital that otherwise may be unavailable or unaffordable.
Like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) does for banks and thrifts, the NCUA insures the savings deposits of account holders through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Also, like banks and thrifts, credit unions are rated on the CAMELS — Capital, Assets (loans and investments), Management, Earnings, Liquidity, and Sensitivity (to systemic-risk) — scale.
Especially for community development credit unions - that is, credit unions that are also certified by the federal government to be community development financial institutions — insured credit union deposits can be an important source of capital for community development projects, as well as direct loans to low-income members in that credit union's local area.
A group that wishes to establish a federal credit union may do so through the NCUA. In order to establish a credit union, the party that seeks to do so must obtain a charter. Details on how to obtain a charter and other support guidance can be obtained here: http://www.ncua.gov/DataApps/Pages/default.aspx.
- The Credit Union National Association is a nonprofit trade group that provides services to credit unions including representation, public relations, information, education, and business development: www.cuna.org
- The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) website is available here:
- The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions ("Federation") is a membership-based organization that provides services and information to credit unions and also individuals and organizations that support community development. The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions provides technical assistance on how to start a credit union here.