New community bank for Scottish capital

Iain May

The Scottish Capital has gains a new financial institution with the launch of Castle Community Bank.

Castle Community Bank will provide its citizens with financial products similar to ‘High Street’ institutions, but with the emphasis firmly on sustainable banking and a truly ethical approach which puts ‘people before profit’.

The Bank, based in the north of the city, will offer savings and loans to all residents that fall within the EH postcode catchment area.

It is completely not-for-profit with any surplus funds being ploughed back into communities around Edinburgh. The bank has no shareholders and is fully owned by its members.

The new bank has been formed following the merger of two long established Credit Unions in the capital that served the communities of Craigmillar and North Edinburgh.

Whilst financial cooperatives have traditionally been designed to provide financial support and assistance to individuals and families who may be precluded from using traditional banking facilities, Castle Community Bank is attracting interest from young professionals and others motivated by conscience to place their finances in the hands of an ethical financial institution which is free from the shackles of shareholder dividends, ‘fat cat’ bonuses and significant banking costs.

Reverend Iain May, Minister of South Leith Parish Church in Edinburgh and a former banker, Marketing Manager with RBS and the Head of Planning and Strategy for Allied Irish Bank Group, helped set up the new bank.

He said “Whilst we are different in structure to a traditional High Street bank, we adhere to the same robust regulatory requirements and independent scrutiny aimed at protecting our customer’s interests. Castle Community Bank has taken well over a year to launch, because of the systems we had to adopt. Our core principle is to ensure that the vulnerable in our communities do not have to get caught up in a debt spiral or turn to payday lenders to make ends meet.

“Equally, our market research indicated that people across the City would welcome a bank with a strong ethical policy, one that took corporate social responsibility to its heart within every facet of its operation and, importantly, ensures that 100% of all profits were re-invested into the community at all times. On that basis, Castle Community Bank is a bank for all.”

The bank currently has a growing customer base, running well into four figures and a healthy deposit of customer savings, known as “member shares”, as well as an active Loan Book. It’s Capital Access Ratio is a very strong 17% – whereas 3% is the regulatory minimum requirement. Castle Community Bank currently offers competitive interest rates on fixed term deposits as well as free life cover on personal loans and savings accounts.