During the third lockdown, the credit union launched the trial of an online loan application process which is beginning to bear fruit.
Board chairman Kevin Fearon told the credit union's annual general meeting on Monday: “As members know, increasing our loan book is critical to the long-term survival and prosperity of this organisation as well as a marker in how effective we are in building financial resilience in our WV communities.
"I am pleased to report that in May, we achieved in excess of £239,000 in loans issued, the best month yet outside our Christmas lending period. And the early indication is that we will continue this trend.”
Mr Fearon said the pandemic and successive lockdowns had resulted in one of the toughest years in the history of the not-for-profit financial co-operative.
He told members that the financial year ended September 2020 had been “tough for our members, tough for employees and for the leadership team and directors".
Mr Fearon told an audience of members via Zoom that the closure of the credit union’s Worcester Street branch and its presence at the Civic Centre and in community locations in Low Hill and The Scotlands due to Covid-19 had resulted in a massive shift online with more members registering for online accounts to undertake routine transactions and to apply for loans.
He added that credit union had ‘tested the patience’ of members who preferred in-person transactions.
"We’re grateful for the vast majority of our members who have overcome their discomfort about banking online and have hopefully gained some benefits from doing so," he said.
"We’re conscious that we work in a digitally divided city, so our commitment to helping people move online has, I think, contributed to more feeling better connected.
“We accept that there has been a fall in service standards for those who don’t bank online, particularly as regards speed of delivery and ease of access to services.”
Looking to the future, Mr Fearon said the credit union was unlikely to be the best place for people seeking a current bank account service comparable to high street banks.
“It is our belief that the very small minority of members who use their credit union as their sole account, would be better served through a basic bank account from one of the high street banks, keeping their credit union account to save and access affordable loans," he added.
During the event, members voted for an annual dividend (return on savings) of 0.25 per cent.
The number of members for the year to the end of September was 9,675 with average savings at £394.
The average loan made during the year was £717 and the total value of loans was £2,398,017.
The total value of savings stood at £3,808,263 and total assets were £4,550,482.