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Cooperative banking, as discussed here, includes retail banking carried out by credit unions, mutual savings banks, building societies and cooperatives, as well as commercial banking services provided by mutual organizations (such as cooperative federations) to cooperative businesses.
Credit unions have the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at reasonable rates, and providing other financial services to its members. Its members are usually required to share a common bond, such as locality, employer, religion or profession, and credit unions are usually funded entirely by member deposits, and avoid outside borrowing. They are typically (though not exclusively) the smaller form of cooperative banking institution. In some countries they are restricted to providing only unsecured personal loans, whereas in others, they can provide business loans to farmers, and mortgages.
Larger institutions are often called cooperative banks. Some are tightly integrated federations of credit unions, though those member credit unions may not subscribe to all nine of the strict principles of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Like credit unions, cooperative banks are owned by their customers and follow the cooperative principle of one person, one vote. Unlike credit unions, however, cooperative banks are often regulated under both banking and cooperative legislation. They provide services such as savings and loans to non-members as well as to members, and some participate in the wholesale markets for bonds, money and even equities. Many cooperative banks are traded on public stock markets, with the result that they are partly owned by non-members. Member control is diluted by these outside stakes, so they may be regarded as semi-cooperative.
Cooperative banking systems are also usually more integrated than credit union systems. Local branches of cooperative banks select their own boards of directors and manage their own operations, but most strategic decisions require approval from a central office. Credit unions usually retain strategic decision-making at a local level, though they share back-office functions, such as access to the global payments system, by federating.
Some cooperative banks are criticized for diluting their cooperative principles. Principles 2-4 of the "Statement on the Co-operative Identity" can be interpreted to require that members must control both the governance systems and capital of their cooperatives. A cooperative bank that raises capital on public stock markets creates a second class of shareholders who compete with the members for control. In some circumstances, the members may lose control. This effectively means that the bank ceases to be a cooperative. Accepting deposits from non-members may also lead to a dilution of member control.
The special banks providing Long Term Loans are called Land Development Banks, in the short, LDB. The history of LDB is quite old. The first LDB was started at Jhang in Punjab in 1920. This bank is also bassed on Co-operative. The main objective of the LDBs are to promote the development of land, agriculture and increase the agricultural production. The LDBs provide long-term finance to members directly through their branches.
Building societies exist in Britain, Ireland and several Commonwealth countries. They are similar to credit unions in organisation, though few enforce a common bond. However, rather than promoting thrift and offering unsecured and business loans, their purpose is to provide home mortgages for members. Borrowers and depositors are society members, setting policy and appointing directors on a one-member, one-vote basis. Building societies often provide other retail banking services, such as current accounts, credit cards and personal loans. In the United Kingdom, regulations permit up to half of their lending to be funded by debt to non-members, allowing societies to access wholesale bond and money markets to fund mortgages. The world's largest building society is Britain's Nationwide Building Society.
Mutual savings banks and mutual savings and loan associations were very common in the 19th and 20th centuries, but declined in number and market share in the late 20th century, becoming globally less significant than cooperative banks, building societies and credit unions.
Trustee savings banks are similar to other savings banks, but they are not cooperatives, as they are controlled by trustees, rather than their depositors.
The most important international associations of cooperative banks, which is based in Paris, is the International Cooperative Banking Association (ICBA), which has member institutions from around the world, and the Brussels based European Association of Co-operative Banks.
In Canada, cooperative banking is provided by credit unions (caisses populaires in French). As of September 30, 2012, there were 357 credit unions and caisses populaires affiliated with Credit Union Central of Canada. They operated 1,761 branches across the country with 5.3 million members and $149.7 billion in assets.
The caisse populaire movement started by Alphonse Desjardins in Quebec, Canada, pioneered credit unions. Desjardins opened the first credit union in North America in 1900, from his home in Lévis, Quebec, marking the beginning of the Mouvement Desjardins. He was interested in bringing financial protection to working people.
British building societies developed into general-purpose savings and banking institutions with ‘one member, one vote’ ownership and can be seen as a form of financial cooperative (although many de-mutualised into conventionally owned banks in the 1980s and 1990s). The UK Co-operative Group includes both an insurance provider, The Co-operative Insurance, and The Co-operative Bank, both noted for promoting ethical investment.
Important continental cooperative banking systems include the Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, Banque Populaire and Caisse d'épargne in France, Rabobank in the Netherlands, BVR/DZ Bank in Germany, Banco Popolare, UBI Banca and Banca Popolare di Milano in Italy, Migros and Coop Bank in Switzerland, and the Raiffeisen system in several countries in central and eastern Europe. The cooperative banks that are members of the European Association of Co-operative Banks have 130 million customers, 4 trillion euros in assets, and 17% of Europe's deposits. The International Confederation of Cooperative Banks (CIBP) is the oldest association of cooperative banks at international level.
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The origins of the cooperative banking movement in India can be traced to the close of 19th century when, inspired by the success of the experiments related to the cooperative movement in Britain and the cooperative credit movement in Germany, such societies were set up in India. Cooperative banks are an important constituent of the Indian financial system. They are the primary financiers of agricultural activities, some small-scale industries and self-employed workers. The Anyonya Co-operative Bank in India is considered to have been the first cooperative bank in Asia. Dombivli Nagari Sahakari Bank Ltd. is 1st Co-operative Bank to launch Mobile Banking Services in India. 
The Co-operative Central Bank Ltd (CCB)  was established in 1937 under the Co-operative Societies Laws and Rules having as its main purpose the provision of banking and other ancillary services to member co-operative societies which form the backbone of the agricultural community of Cyprus. Over the years the Bank has seen the need to expand and diversify its activities and is now in a position to provide the full range of services normally offered by comprehensive rural banks. The establishment of the Bank was a major event and turning point in the development of the Co-operative Movement and has proved instrumental in eradicating the then prevalent usury and exploitation of farmers. Its progress has been rapid and its success beyond the expectation of the pioneers of the Co-operative Movement. In mid 2013, Cyprus’ Co-operative banking system announced a major restructuring, where a list of 18 companies would be created by merging the existing 93 Cooperative Banks.
The more recent phenomena of microcredit and microfinance are often based on a cooperative model. These focus on small business lending. In 2006, Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his ideas regarding development and his pursuit of the microcredit concept.
(2010 US$ millions)
|Crédit Agricole||France||||Joint stock bank||CASA||Majority owned by federation of credit unions|
|DZ Bank||Germany||Bank||Deutsche Zentralgenossenschaftbank|
German Central Cooperative Bank
|Owned by three quarters of all Volksbank and Raiffeisenbank (cooperative banks) in Germany and Austria|
|Caisse d'Epargne||France||literally “savings bank”||Credit union federation|
|Rabobank||Netherlands||1,500,000+||Credit union federation|
|Nationwide Building Society||UK||Building society||World's largest building society|
|Groupe Banque Populaire||France||3,400,000|
|Desjardins Group||Canada||5,795,277||Credit union federation||Leading bank in Quebec|
|Raiffeisen Zentralbank||Austria||Bank||RZB Österreich||Credit union federation|
|Progoti Co-operative Land Development Bank Limited||Bangladesh||Bank||Progoti Bank||The largest Land Development Bank in Bangladesh|
|Nonghyup||South Korea||Banking division of agricultural cooperative||National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF)||Approx US$230 billion in loans|
|Iccrea Banca||Italy||Bank||Istituto Centrale del Credito Cooperativo|
|Cassa Centrale Banca - Credito Cooperativo del Nord Est||Italy||Bank||CCB|
|Raiffeisen Landesbank Südtirol||Italy||Bank||Cassa Centrale Raiffeisen dell'Alto Adige|
|Raiffeisen (Switzerland)||Switzerland||Credit union federation|
|Banco Cooperativo Español and Caja Rural||Spain|
|OP-Pohjola Group and Pohjola Bank||Finland||31% share of Finnish credit market, and 32% share of savings and deposit market|
|bankmecu||Australia||125,000+||$3b||bank||Australia's first customer owned bank|
|Bank Persatuan||Malaysia||46,135||86,375,542.97||Bank||Koperasi Bank Persatuan Malaysia Berhad||2nd national cooperative bank in Malaysia|
|Bank Rakyat||Malaysia||Islamic cooperative bank||Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Berhad|
|Co-operative Bank||UK||Not applicable||||Bank||Subsidiary of consumer cooperative|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||US||3,004,352||33012||Credit union|
|Shared Interest||UK||||Cooperative lending society||Finance for fair trade|
|The Cooperative Bank||New Zealand||120,000+||Bank||Customer owned bank|
|Alternative Bank Schweiz||Switzerland||4,864||Alternative bank||ABS||sustainable and ethic banking|
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