Caerphilly-based credit union Smart Money Cymru has become a community bank.

It says its new name – Smart Money Cymru Community Bank – will better reflect its growing range of services.

Smart Money Cymru chairman Alun Taylor said the changes won’t affect members in the short term, but they can “look forward to improved financial services and technology as the new community bank develops and grows, helping the community to prosper.”

Following mergers with both the Islwyn Credit Union and the Plaid Cymru Credit Union in 2020, Smart Money Cymru became the first credit union in Wales to launch its own online shopping service this autumn.

The not-for-profit organisation, which has more than 7,500 members, has branches on Cardiff Road in Caerphilly and Wesley Road in Blackwood, as well as a branch in Tredegar.

In the last year, lending to members increased by 45%, while membership grew by 6%.

Smart Money Cymru’s CEO, Mark White said the firm had performed well during the pandemic and was able to forge its future path.

“We are already embedded in the community, and we are now developing ways to increase this and build on the work done over the years,” Mr White said.

“Lending to our members means that funds tend to be spent locally, and so wealth is safeguarded within the area, rather than flowing out.

“As a not-for-profit institution, owned by its members, we endorse the concept of the circular economy for building businesses and supporting local employers.”

He also said the company is set to launch a credit card in the near future.

Mr White continued: “We have two significant advantages over high street banks. These are that we operate locally, and that our lending approach is more flexible and suited to the community.

“Rather than rigid lending criteria based merely on credit scoring systems, we look at a broader picture of our borrowers and take a more overall view when we make decisions on loans.”