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Community First to rebrand following successful trademark dispute

Community First Credit Union has announced that it will be rebranding as Community First Bank after a successful trademark dispute in 2021.

The former credit union is now in the process of transitioning into a member-owned bank with the roll-out expected to be completed by March 2023.

Community First’s shift comes after 62 years as a credit union and an authorised deposit-taking institution regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

After a drawn-out trademark dispute in 2021, Community First won the right for all mutual banks to call themselves “community banks”.

Prior to this, Community First successfully won a court case against Bendigo Bank, which saw the non-major bank stripped of its exclusive trademark on the phrase “community bank” in September 2019.

Bendigo previously held a monopoly on the use of the term “community bank” in any entity name or marketing material by any other banking or financial service.

The trademark would have affected Community First in future applications to APRA to become a bank or mutual bank, due to the restrictions placed on the words “community” and “bank” in succession in the entity name.

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This comes off the back of record loan inflows over the last two years that highlighted that customers wanted more feasible large bank alternatives that offered safety and security.

According to Community First, the rebranding will help consumers understand the services and support that it offers. This is based on research that indicated that younger Australians were not familiar or did not understand the term “credit union”.

Chief executive of Community First Credit Union, John Tancevski, said the next phase in the credit union’s evolution has arrived and that it was time for rebranding.

“It is a subtle yet natural evolution, and our transition to Community First Bank is testament to our growth and success over the years, Mr Tancevski said.

“Today, Community First Bank has member deposits of $1.1 billion, we have over $1 billion in outstanding loans, and our Members’ Equity at 30 June 2022 stood at $104.5 million, marking the first time Members’ Equity has risen above $100 million.

“While our name will change slightly, we will continue to act only in our members’ best interests as we always have.

“Community First is still a mutual, member-owned financial institution, we are just using the word ‘bank’ instead of ‘credit union’ in order to resonate with the next generation of members.”

[RELATED: Bendigo loses ‘community bank’ trademark]

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