In a recent interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Chief Lending Officer Chase Larson and CEO Jed Meyer of St. Cloud Financial Credit Union, based in Minnesota, discussed their experiences with Bitcoin and their efforts to develop a bitcoin custody solution at the credit union. Larson shared his personal journey with digital assets, starting in 2016, and his realization of the need for accessible resources and education for individuals interested in Bitcoin. He joined the credit union in 2021 and focused on education and connecting people with resources related to cryptocurrency.
Meyer emphasized the importance of understanding the material need for Bitcoin services in their community and outlined a strategic four-step approach that prioritizes education and storage, then transactional ability and banking products. Meyer highlighted their focus on education as a way to change the narrative around Bitcoin and address the risks and concerns associated with it.
Regarding the bitcoin custody solution, Larson stated that they have been working on developing a product that is currently operational but not yet ready for launch to their 25,000 members. The credit union has been prioritizing education both internally and externally, ensuring that their employees and members understand the intricacies and risks of cryptocurrencies. They aim to be a reliable partner for their members, offering safe storage options and guidance without advising specific investments.
“From an educational perspective, we said, let's really start foundational from the ground floor,” Larson explained. “We're going to walk our members through this high level of education, in an effort to, one, help them become more informed, regardless if they own it today, plan to own it or not, we want our members to be well informed. And then two for those that choose to get into the space, hopefully, they make more informed decisions and understand the risks.”
The interview also touched on their collaborative approach with regulators to ensure responsible implementation of their Bitcoin services. Larson and Meyer believe that education and storage are areas where they can make a significant impact while working within regulatory frameworks. They have engaged with regulators and are in ongoing discussions to incorporate their feedback into the development of policies and procedures.
Speaking on the future impact that Bitcoin could have on the traditional finance realm, Meyer said that “If you do nothing, I think you're taking more risk as to where this industry is actually headed in the future, and how it will actually impact us to a significant degree. And if you don't want to be on the receiving end of how others have developed this, you should probably get involved now.”
Overall, St. Cloud Financial Credit Union's approach to Bitcoin reflects a commitment to educating their members and working collaboratively with regulators to navigate the evolving landscape of Bitcoin. While self-custody is inherently the most safe method of storing bitcoin, in a world where education on Bitcoin is lacking credit unions can serve in an educational role. In addition, innovations like Fedimints could help create custodial solutions that help retain the properties of Bitcoin that make it sovereign money, while still ensuring a level of distributed responsibility that makes those involved more comfortable.