Update 1 June 2021: CUA has officially become 'Great Southern Bank'. 

Bank CEO Paul Lewis said: "This is the tip of the iceberg for Great Southern Bank". 

“We are a vibrant alternative to the big four banks.

“The difference is we reinvest 100% of our profit back into our customers, rather than paying that money out to shareholders.

“We decided to change our name because our research showed us clearly that half of the country doesn’t know what a credit union is.

“Now everyone will know that we can challenge the big four banks, without being one of them.”

Below last updated 2 February 2021.

The Brisbane-based credit union has registered new business names and domain addresses to reflect the rebrand, as reported in Banking Day.

CUA chief Paul Lewis said the change comes after a concerted effort to emphasise banking products to consumers, with research showing nearly half of Australians did not know what being a 'credit union' actually meant.

“If you’re the largest [credit union] and you’re having to not only promote your own brand but actually promote what the category is ... that becomes a bit of a burden and an opportunity cost,” he told the Financial Review.

“There are people that are frivolous and say, ‘People don’t go online to do their ‘credit unioning,'". 

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CUA has been trading with 'credit union' in its name for upwards of 70 years, starting off as the 'Thrift and Loan CU' in 1946, and has grown to become Australia's largest credit union with upwards of half a million members.

Credit unions and mutuals rebranding to include 'bank' in the name is not new.

For example, Toowoomba-based Heritage Bank began as Toowoomba Permanent Building Society in 1875, and rebranded in 2011.

Bank Australia began as the CSIRO Cooperative Credit Society in 1957, and rebranded in 2015.

CEO of the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) Michael Lawrence told Savings.com.au the CUA rebrand is commercial in nature.

“COBA’s members are exploring opportunities to build and capitalise on growth that is occurring for the customer owned banking sector at large," he said.

"Regardless of name changes, the customer owned model remains at the core of our sector. Members are on the front foot of communicating this distinctive and appealing customer-centric approach to a diverse Australian population, including younger generations.”

The sector of the banking industry known as 'customer owned banks' experienced mixed results in 2020. 

Mr Lawrence said across customer owned institutions, residential lending had increased 3.0% through the year to November 2020, while deposits increased by 7.0%.

"This has been a tough year for all, but our members continue to prioritise the needs of their customers as the economy looks to the recovery phase,” he said.

"This market share underlines the fact that customer owned banking institutions continue to be seen as an attractive proposition for customers."

A review of customer owned banks by KPMG earlier in 2020 revealed 70% of surveyed institutions feel confident in their three-year growth prospects, up from 63% in 2019.

Image Source: CUA 

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