BARCLAYS has handed Britain's credit unions £1m and promised to provide space in branches and the help of expert staff to local communities and credit unions.
It is also giving credit unions free infrastructure access to Pingit, the bank's mobile payment service, so that they can operate in their communities without needing to invest in technology.
The move is clearly designed to help reposition the much-criticised bank, but does that mean Barclays should come in for further criticism for a cynical move – or praise for actively doing something to make a positive difference?
Movement for Change, which has fought for access to fair credit through its Sharkstoppers campaign, welcomed the bank's initiative.
Georgie Laming from Sharkstoppers national strategy team said: "This is great news for people across the UK who need fairer forms of credit to become more commonplace throughout the country.
"Other organisations can follow Barclays' example and show they are willing to act in support of fair credit. Credit unions can be a good alternative to both payday lenders and the big banks which are unwilling to lend small amounts of money to people in need."
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial co-operatives. They offer similar services to banks, such as savings accounts and loans, to help their members save and manage their money responsibly.
But unlike banks, credit unions are owned and controlled by their members – the people who use them – and run for their benefit. The emphasis is on providing the best service, not on maximising profits.
The £1m cash injection for credit unions will help them to grow and expand.
The Government has recently pledged £38m-worth of support to the sector.