Larger institutions are often called cooperative banks. Some are tightly integrated federations of credit unions, though those member credit unions may not subscribe to all nine of the strict principles of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Like credit unions, cooperative banks are owned by their customers and follow the cooperative principle of one person, one vote. Unlike credit unions, however, cooperative banks are often regulated under both banking and cooperative legislation. They provide services such as savings and loans to non-members as well as to members, and some participate in the wholesale markets for bonds, money and even equities. Many cooperative banks are traded on public stock markets, with the result that they are partly owned by non-members. Member control is diluted by these outside stakes, so they may be regarded as semi-cooperative.
Cooperative banking systems are also usually more integrated than credit union systems. Local branches of cooperative banks select their own boards of directors and manage their own operations, but most strategic decisions require approval from a central office. Credit unions usually retain strategic decision-making at a local level, though they share back-office functions, such as access to the global payments system, by federating.
Some cooperative banks are criticized for diluting their cooperative principles. Principles 2-4 of the "Statement on the Co-operative Identity" can be interpreted to require that members must control both the governance systems and capital of their cooperatives. A cooperative bank that raises capital on public stock markets creates a second class of shareholders who compete with the members for control. In some circumstances, the members may lose control. This effectively means that the bank ceases to be a cooperative. Accepting deposits from non-members may also lead to a dilution of member control.