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CUNA unveils initiative to create blockchain platform for credit unions

Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the not-for-profit trade group serving nearly 7,000 credit unions in the U.S., recently unveiled the CU Ledger Initiative, a proof-of-concept project at America’s Credit Union Conference.

Credit Union Times reported that CUNA’s Chief Operating Officer Rich Meade unveiled the project at the conference. CUNA will undertake the CU Ledger Initiative with the Mountain West Credit Union Association (MWCUA) to position the credit union movement for the day that blockchain goes global.

The concept is to create a credit union system-wide “permissioned distributed shared ledger” or blockchain platform, which has the potential to make all types of financial transactions more efficient, fast and secure. The system would only include credit unions and credit union service organizations (CUSOs).

CUNA and the MWCUA are looking for 125 credit unions to participate in the industry’s first ever development of a blockchain technology platform, Credit Union Times reported. Meade said he has received verbal commitments from Royal Credit Union, Chartway Credit Union, and American Heritage Federal Credit Union. Three CUSOs – CO-OP Financial Services, PSCU and CUDL – have also verbally committed to the project.

“This is why we are doing the proof of concept first,” Meade said. “We don’t know whether or not credit unions will jump on this. We don’t know if they want to be innovators on this. We hope they are. But we don’t know they will be.”

Meade said that he would like to see more than double the number of credit unions they are initially seeking (125) on the blockchain technology system to fully test and evaluate it. The project is open to credit unions of all asset sizes and in order to participate in the initiative, credit unions will be asked to make a $10,000 contribution each to offset research costs.

In the forthcoming months, CUNA, the MWCUA, and other system stakeholders will start developing the CU Ledger Initiative. Meade emphasized that the shared-ledger platform would benefit credit unions and their members in a number of ways. This would include participation in a credit union industry-specific payments system that would not be dependent on others and improved data security for possible financial and identify applications.

“This potential platform could be the next generation of the shared branching network,” Meade said. “This is not a singular step this is a leap into the future. This could be a game changer.”

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