The NewB banking cooperative, which was supposed to revolutionize the image of banking, is now facing major financial problems. Problems that worry more and more its cooperators.
It was to be the response to the financial crisis of 2009 and to new citizen aspirations to be more sustainable, more social, greener. After being born on May 6, 2011, the NewB cooperative obtained its banking license in January 2020. But things then got complicated, to arrive today at a situation that seems inextricable.
It was to be the response to the financial crisis of 2009 and to new citizen aspirations to be more sustainable, more social, greener. After being born on May 6, 2011, the NewB cooperative obtained its banking license in January 2020. But things then got complicated, to arrive today at a situation that seems inextricable. Earlier this month, the bank announced that the Walloon Region had decided not to participate in the recapitalization of the cooperative, confirming that the 40 million euros in funds requested will not be collected. A sum that the National Bank of Belgium (BNB) had asked it to raise before September 30 in order to maintain its banking license. Today, the bank has 117,000 cooperators, 353 social organizations and 11 institutional investors, but only 20,000 customers. And that’s what some criticize the bank: for not having succeeded in converting a majority of its members into customers. For its part, NewB points out that it had to “face several difficulties which delayed the launch of banking activities”. “The outbreak of confinement one month after obtaining the banking license complicated the recruitment of the new teams essential for the start-up of a brand new bank. The transition to negative interest rates was not initially planned in the financial plan and these have a considerable impact on [nos] income.” The cooperative bank had nevertheless launched an online appeal, which had succeeded in bringing together more than 30,000 signatories. Moreover, in its desire to continue to bring alternative solutions to the crises that our society is going through, NewB had called for mobilization of the banks in the face of the current energy crisis. As energy consumption is highly dependent on the quality of building insulation, NewB plans to develop a “renovation credit”, allowing households that own a ” energy sieve” to finance renovation work. Part of the savings made on the energy bill would be used to repay the loan and the rest would remain with the household, which would thus reduce its charges. the ranks of cooperators. Thus, the newspaper l’Echo revealed that some of them had called on a law firm to launch a preliminary study of the case. The aim being to clarify the s plans of the bank for the continuation but also to advance the general assembly, for the moment envisaged in December. Also, NewB specified to the cooperators that “the money which was invested in cooperative shares of NewB was aware of the risks. If our bank were to be dissolved, the cooperators and cooperators would recover the financial balance after clearance of all the other commitments of NewB”. A declaration which will perhaps not satisfy those concerned. Still in discussion with the BNB, the NewB says various “alternative scenarios” and which will be put to the vote at the general meeting. The bank plans in particular to continue certain sustainable finance activities outside the banking license or the liquidation of the cooperative. A general meeting that some cooperators would therefore like to organize earlier If there is no question of legal action at the moment, internal disagreements are therefore increasingly present.