“The locals were lured into the branch with vouchers bearing a code that would be punched into a ‘digital vault’. After hitting the ‘Go’ button the vault would spin and open, revealing a prize sum of $20, $50 or $100,” columnist Jennifer Wells recounted in her August 22 piece for the Toronto Star
Winners were given the choice to take their cash or open a deposit account that would contain their winning sum, with another $50 added for those who produced bank statements from other institutions.
“We’re creating a brand in the community,” Roncesvalles branch manager Marrion Cherian said, adding that their focus in the GTA is on the creation of what they called “boutique branches”, which would be intended to operate at maximum engagement with local businesses.
Meridian CEO Bill Maurin stated that the aim is to make the credit union profile “socially relevant” in Ontario, citing the example set by the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union’s support of affordable housing, green construction, and lending even to those without banks.
These initiatives are concurrent with Meridian’s move to secure a federal banking licence, although Maurin estimated that this will take over two years (end of 2018, at the earliest). The bank will operate not as a publicly traded organization, but as a subsidiary wholly owned by Meridian.
“They’re co-operative finance. So their business model is not driven by...the stock exchange. They are driven by what their members are looking for, and serving their members,” Canadian Credit Union Association CEO Martha Durdin said.
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In a break from the norm of major financial institutions, Meridian Credit Union did not engage in an expensive advertising campaign when it opened its Roncesvalles branch late last year. Instead, Meridian went for a decidedly out-of-left-field strategy.