The 3rd co-operative principle says:
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative.
Notwithstanding the position of Co-operative Travel and the recent changes at the bank, the Group itself does not apply this principle. Members are given a card that looks and feels like a loyalty card. The members of the Rochdale Pioneers had to save up to buy their share when £1 meant a lot more than it does now. Many members have expressed dismay that they were not given an opportunity to provide some of the capital needed to save the bank, or to pay for the new headquarters at Angel Square.
With modern technology it would not be difficult to devise a way for members to have a much more significant stake, perhaps with the same opportunity that the Rochdale Pioneers had to build up that stake over time.
Not only could member capital help reduce the need to sell assets and borrow money, but by offering members a more significant financial stake, membership - ownership - would take on real meaning.