When St Mary's Cooperative Credit Association, the first US credit union, opened its doors in 1909, it was a radical alternative to mainstream banking. 

At the time, most incumbent banks were only interested in serving businesses and high net worth individuals. 

By contrast, St. Mary's was open to all, regardless of income or social status. 

Becoming a member meant you got an ownership stake. And where banks' main aim was to make as much money as possible, St Mary's put members' interests before profit. 

Fast forward to 2022, and there are 5,204 active credit unions across the US. 

But while they're still committed to the same core principles St Mary's was founded on 113 years ago — putting members' interests first and foremost — the landscape they operate in is unrecognizable. 

Today, it's customers, not banks, who are in the driver's seat. 

More to the point, digitalization has blurred the lines between traditional banks, digital-first challengers, and credit unions, and reshaped customers' expectations of what a standout banking experience should look like. 

So where does this leave credit unions?

Is there still a place for them in the digital age, or have they fallen so far behind incumbents that they risk becoming obsolete?

We used our digital banking research platform FinTech Insights to find out.