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Caerphilly-based Smart Money Cymru has become the first credit union in Wales to launch an online shopping service for its members.
The new Smart Goods service will give Smart Money Cymru’s 7,000 members the chance to buy a range of domestic goods, such as cookers, fridges and televisions online.
To offer the service, the credit union has teamed up with suppliers CSL, which offers a catalogue of more than 5,000 goods to disadvantaged and low-income communities, working with the charity sector and local financial institutions.
Purchases through the service are funded by Smart Money Cymru loans, with the goods delivered direct to the customer.
Smart Money Cymru CEO Mark White said the service is aimed at helping people with poor credit histories who are struggling to access finance from high street banks and lenders.
Mr White said he was “convinced” the scheme would prove popular.
He said: “Lending decisions are increasingly made by automated systems based on credit records. This has the effect of excluding growing numbers of people from reasonable borrowing, effectively penalising them and increasing financial difficulties.
“We work to break that cycle and provide fair and affordable finance to our members, taking a long-term, holistic view.”
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Smart Goods loans are provided at a fixed interest rate of 3% per month, with an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 42.6%. For comparison, BrightHouse, which is now in administration, offered an APR of between 69.9% and 99.9%.
Mr White added: “This rate compares very favourably with rates offered by other lenders in this and similar markets and provides an affordable and ethical alternative.
“[Smart Goods] is convenient and easy to use, and our staff at Smart Money Cymru are available to support members through the loan application and making the purchase.
“Smart Goods makes it possible for families on low incomes to purchase the products they need for everyday living.”
Smart Money Cymru already has branches on Cardiff Road in Caerphilly and Wesley Road in Blackwood, as well as a branch in Tredegar.
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