In the end, no banks showed up at all. It was mostly credit unions, consultants to credit unions and suppliers. One surprising thing to emerge from BarCampBankSeattle was the talk about the mission of the credit union movement and its relevance in today’s world. Didn’t expect that, but it was a vibrant, and I would argue important discussion to have.
Banks were invited, specifically Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo. I know that Ed Terpening, VP of Social Media at Wells, was planning on coming, but couldn’t make it. I look forward to meeting him at some point. But in the end BarCampBank had no bank representation. An odd state of affairs.
When we talked about innovation and supporting communities, we all thought that that was the job for credit unions. What was incredibly reassuring is that there are many people who are passionate about what credit unions can do for communities and their constituents.
We need to be vigilant to ensure that credit unions don’t become, as Jesse put it, small shitty, inefficient banks. In the end, it was a great marriage of a discussion around banking innovation and the role credit unions can continue to play in the service of people and their money. I hope the conversation continues, because it’s exciting for me to see the next generation of CU leaders engaged in the credit union mission, who see it as a movement and believe in it passionately. Sometimes I wonder if the shift from Boomers to Gen X and Y will lead to a shift away from strong credit unions supporting their communities. We had an amazing blend of younger people, new to the CU world, and some long time champions of the movement – it was an excellent cross-section. This weekend gave me renewed faith.