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Coast Capital a step closer to operating Canadawide

Provincial bodies approve move but federal approval still required
The Surrey-based credit union is Canada's largest, ranked by membership | Lyle Stafford/ Victoria Times Colonist

Surrey’s Coast Capital Savings is now a step closer to its goal of being a federal credit union able to operate nationwide.

The financial institution was granted provincial approval on August 14 to operate nationwide so it can serve customers who move to other cities as well as small business owners who may open offices in other parts of Canada.

The next step to being able to operate nationwide is for Coast Capital to get federal approval from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and Canada’s Minister of Finance.

Provincial approval came from the Financial Institutions Commission of British Columbia and the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation and the financial institution’s vice-president of enterprise transformation, John Groves, told Business in Vancouver that he expects that his institution will officially become a federal credit union by the summer of 2018.

BIV’s 2016 list of largest credit unions in B.C. pegged Coast Capital’s 2014 membership at 522,000, which was larger than Vancity’s 509,008 members. That made Coast Capital the largest credit union in the country, ranked by membership.

Vancity had more than $19.8 billion in assets under management in 2015, which was more than the over $13.7 billion in assets under management that Coast Capital oversaw.

Vancity has no plans to become a federal credit union but it has a subsidiary, Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), which is able to operate across the country. So far, VCIB only operates in B.C. and in Metro Toronto.

Before applying to become a federal credit union, Coast held two votes to determine whether members liked the idea.

In late 2016, 79.2% of the nearly 80,000 Coast Capital members who submitted a special resolution ballot, voted for the organization to become a federal credit union.  

This was followed by second special resolution ballot, in spring 2017, in which 85.4% of nearly 50,000 voting members agreed to amend Coast Capital’s credit union rules to allow the credit union to align those rules with federal requirements.

It is not clear where the credit union intends to open its first branches outside B.C.

Not only will the expansion enable easier banking for its members who move across the country but Groves said that the credit union will also be in a better position to generate capital from operations that it could spend on improved technological offerings for customers, such as real-time financial advice.

The credit union has already been at the forefront of innovation for Canadian credit unions and it is the only credit union in Canada to support the digital payment system Apple Pay for debit and credit card users.

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