Credit Unions are vital to the lives of 1.45 million South Carolinians. However, the primary regulator for 84% of the credit unions in South Carolina is in Washington, DC. There are currently only eleven credit unions in South Carolina with a state charter, and the 15 largest credit unions in the state are all federally chartered. To make our credit unions the best they can be, we need to strengthen the state charter so that they can be regulated closer to home.
With a stronger state charter, credit union members will have greater access to services and there will be an increased number of locally owned and controlled institutions. Also, those institutions will be better able to meet the needs of SC consumers. It will also result in lower cost loans, fewer fees and higher savings rates.
To achieve these goals, changes to the SC Credit Union Act need to be made. These changes will make the South Carolina credit union charter more flexible and more attractive and bring state governance and local supervision back to more South Carolina credit unions. Bringing the regulation of credit unions back to the state will only yield positive results.
South Carolina is currently behind in the number of credit unions with state charters compared to surrounding states. States like North Carolina, Georgia and Florida have at least 40% of their credit unions under state charter while Alabama and Tennessee have more than 50% state-chartered credit unions. This highlights the fact that South Carolina needs to modernize and strengthen the state charter.
With support from lawmakers, the necessary changes can be made the SC Credit Union Act. Once these changes are made, it will be possible–and even preferable–for many South Carolina credit unions to be state chartered. And the more credit unions that are state chartered, the better off the consumers of South Carolina are.