CULedger embodies the idea that credit unions should use blockchain technology to provide credit unions, and their members (effectively consumers), with innovative, cutting-edge products and services. To move this forwards, a new credit union service organization (CUSO) now exists. Member credit unions (akin to the UK’s building societies of old) will have majority ownership.
According to Rudy Pereira, President/CEO Premier America Credit Union and chairman of the CULedger steering committee: “CULedger is an opportunity for credit unions to be leaders of innovation in financial services. Getting involved now in CULedger and CULedger, LCC will offer credit unions the ability to participate in shared-ledger technology that is on path to reshape the credit union industry as a whole in the years to come.”
CULedger is the research-to-action initiative which investigates the viability of private, permissioned, distributed ledger technology (DLT) for use by credit unions. It is an effort to do for the credit union industry what R3 or HyperLedger are doing for the banks: assemble a consortia of credit unions and CUSOs to build a ledger network dedicated to the needs of credit unions.
At its core, shared-ledger technology will offer an online system. Through this, multiple certified parties can securely exchange information and conduct transactions with all exchanges certified by all participant organizations – so called nodes.These will participate in a permissioned network based on a type of DTL adopted by financial institutions worldwide.
CULedger is planning informational sessions for credit unions interested in investing in the new CUSO in September and October. There will also be a search for a CEO for the blockchain network following the investor sessions. Anyone interested in receiving more information about these informational sessions can express their interest here.
Members and original thinking
CULedger began in 2016 as an endeavor between CUNA and Mountain West Credit Union Association. Their concept involved development of a credit union system-wide permissioned distributed shared ledger platform.
The initiative has grown with collaboration between:
- the Mountain West Credit Union Association
- Best Innovation Group
- other credit union system partners. The hope is that more will participate.
The hope is others, for example from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), will participate.
To understand the original rationale for this credit union initiative, read the Blockchain and the Credit Union: The Asset Transfer Revolution paper. Commissioned from Glenbrook Partners by the PCSU (Public Services Credit Union) this examines both the case and the technologies that might be appropriate.
What does this mean
Though seemingly abstract and worth minimal attention, the formation of the CUSO is an important step. It opens the door to practical blockchain use in the credit union industry. It is a harbinger of more practical developments which follow on from the CULedger pilot.
As important is the recognition that, in a financial environment, permissioned blockchains are the way forward. In a highly regulated and is some ways restrictive credit union operating environment, a permissioned version of DLT, like that envisioned by CULedger, make sense – because de facto all credit unions share common interests (and regulatory restrictions).