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Username: dgrace
Date/Time: Wed, October 18, 2000 at 6:51 PM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.5 using Windows 98
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Subject: International Credit Union Support for .co-op


        As the world’s leading advocate, platform for innovation and development organization for credit unions and similar financial cooperatives, the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. supports the proposed .co-op top-level domain suffix. 

Credit unions and cooperative banks are financial institutions that are cooperatively member-owned and controlled.  Today it is unusual to find a country without credit unions, financial cooperatives or seeds of such a movement. 

Why should ICANN approve the .co-op suffix?

1. To help alleviate pressure on .com and .org.  With over 38,000 credit unions in 85 countries, credit unions' ability to obtain appropriate domains is already problematic. 

2. To eliminate confusion in the marketplace and create an appropriate domain name.  As providers of financial services, credit unions and cooperative banks are first and foremost businesses.  However, their not-for-profit orientation and commitment to social responsibility resembles an .org.  As a result, there has been confusion among institutions and consumers in locating credit unions on the web.  For example, the majority of credit unions in the United States and the United Kingdom are registered as .orgs. In Canada and Australia, most credit unions are registered as .coms.  In Western Europe most cooperative banks are registered under the country code’s top-level domain (.de, .fr, .nl, .es).  In addition, some credit unions are also registered as .net.  

3. To assist consumers in identifying cooperatives.  Credit unions and cooperative banks have a greater reliance on the web for the provision of services compared to many other types of cooperatives.  The importance of the Internet today and going forward cannot be understated for financial institutions.  Empirical research on credit unions in developed and developing countries indicates that consumers value the trust that credit unions provide greater than any other aspect of the institution.  The approval of .co-op will provide consumers with the ability to identify cooperative financial institutions in a way that is unavailable today.

4. The proposed top-level domain of .co-op makes sense in multiple languages and cultures.  In many parts of the world, credit unions are referred to as cooperatives.  For example, throughout English-speaking Africa, credit unions are known as savings and credit cooperatives; in Latin America they are known as Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito, in French, cooperative is translated as coopérative, in many Asian countries (the Philippines, China, Thailand) credit unions are known as credit cooperatives.  For historical reasons, financial cooperatives in the United States, English-speaking Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United Kingdom are known as credit unions.  Within these countries, credit unions actively differentiate themselves from banks by stressing their cooperative structure.

5. There are standards in place for determining if an organization is a cooperative financial institution.  In 1984, World Council's Membership Council approved the International Credit Union Operating Principles (see of Open and Voluntary Membership, Democratic Control, Non-Discrimination, Service to Members, Distribution to Members, Building Financial Stability, On-Going Education, Cooperation Among Cooperatives and Social Responsibility. These principles build on the International Cooperative Alliance’s principles for cooperatives that have been referenced in previous comments on .co-op.

On behalf of 38,000 credit unions in 85 countries and their 100 million credit union members worldwide, I encourage ICANN to approve .co-op in its first round of deliberations. 

Arthur Arnold
Chief Executive Office
World Council of Credit Unions       


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