Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2014 Contents We are doing the same things that banks
do, but the philosophy is different," he said.
Gooding said credit unions have survived
the worst of the economic downturn over the
last few years.
"There were problems experienced with
one major credit union that obviously had an
impact on the financial industry. However,
credit unions have come through the worst,
when the whole global economic meltdown
took place. Credit unions were able to hold
their own because we have a very loyal mem-
bership. Members stood by their credit unions
and we weathered the storm and come out
stronger," Gooding said.
He said hopefully discussions over the Draft
Credit Union Bill is drawing to a close.
"The discussions with the Central Bank has
been going on for a while, but you are getting
a sense that it is getting closer and closer to
an end. We do not have timeline as yet."
Gooding spoke about the credit rating given
by CariCris (Caribbean Information and Credit
Rating Services Ltd) and said Eastern Credit
Union is the first credit union in the Caribbean
to be independently rated by them.
CariCris the Caribbean's regional credit rat-
ing agency. It is a market driven initiative
aimed at fostering and supporting the devel-
opment of regional debt markets in the
"We got an investment grade rating off
BBB-. This looks at the strength of an organ-
isation in terms of its balance sheet, in terms
of its governance structures. It also looks at
the risk profile, the systems and procedures
that are in place to support the organisation.
It also looks at the role of management. So
all these indicators would have gone into the
mix to give us that type of rating," he said.
Gooding spoke to the Business Guardian
on April 23 at Eastern Credit Union's head
office, La Joya Complex, St Joseph.
Gooding boasts that Eastern Credit Union
is the first credit union in the country to offer
online banking, which, he said, is a free serv-
ice.It will officially be launched to customers
on May 5.
"We are the first to offer online banking
and now mobile banking. You can do same
things as online banking, but on your smart-
phone, like an iPhone, Blackberry or any other
smartphone," he said.
Although he declined to mention the cost,
Gooding said this new online system is as a
result of a new IT platform the credit union
launched in January, which is Cruise NET.
With this new service, Eastern members
will have 24-hour access to their accounts
from anywhere once they have a PC with a
secure Internet connection or a smartphone.
Through Eastern Connect, members can
obtain balances on their accounts, transfer
funds between their accounts, make loan pay-
ments and obtain statements.
"We changed our IT platform and this plat-
form has enabled us to create new efficiencies
in terms of how we service our members, how
long it takes to do a transaction, how long it
takes to back up our system. It used to take
three hours each night, now it takes less time
to back up the system. This new IT capacity
has allowed us to achieve those benefits," he
Gooding said the May 5 launch is the "first
stage", following which additional services out
of this system will be rolled out.
"This is just for customers to get comfortable
using online banking. Then we go on to the
next stage. The philosophy of credit unions
is to be of service to its members to provide
services where you could not get services
before. Internet banking is a natural step of
this and the desire to satisfy the needs of our
customers. So after a hard day's work, you
can check your account and pay your bills
online," he said.
He added that the staff of Eastern Credit
Union have already tested the new online sys-
tem and it works well so far.
"We being the first to launch this, we think
it would impact the market as it would energise
other credit unions to also seek to get this
service out to their members," he said.
He also said this online banking system is
just the first of many innovations over the
"Eastern Credit Union has been making
strides in the financial services sector. Eastern
boasts the only credit union with its own ATM
card and machines as well as the first and
only non-commercial bank to join the LINX
network," he said.
Despite the many changes in the financial
sector in T&T and globally he is confident
that Eastern Credit Union will survive and
"I am from the banking sector. I am con-
fident that when I look at the co-operative
movement worldwide it is growing globally
and there are over a billion members in it.
People who are drawn to this sector feel that
they are helping make a contribution rather
than being with one of the big global banks.
But the movement worldwide and in T&T is
growing," he said.
Credit union growth
He said Eastern Credit Union has had a
"vision" that has kept it relevant over the
From an initial start of $59.50 and 22 mem-
bers 41 years ago, Eastern Credit Union has
grown to an asset base of more than $1.6
billion with a membership of 165,000.
"If you look at La Joya, it was supposed to
be a complex where it would offer multiple
services: artisans, consultants, apartments,
gym, swimming pool, the credit union and
other services here. As the group CEO, I am
responsible for the group, which is made up
of the credit union and Eastern Properties
Ltd," he said.
He said the plan is to have the La Joya model
replicated in other parts of the country.
"We are looking at south and Tobago. We
are now poised to look at expansion because
we have our systems and procedures in place.
We have a staffed that is well trained and
geared for new challenges. We now have a
robust information technology platform. We
have products and services that could compete
with the banking sector. The vision of this
credit union was always one of growth," he
MAY 2014 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
From Page 4
group chief executive officer, Eastern Credit Union.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
ECU has been making strides in the financial
services sector. Eastern boasts the only
credit union with its own ATM card and
machines as well as the first and only non-
commercial bank to join the LINX network.
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