‘Clear opportunity’ for credit unions in shrunken bank market

Some 82% of consumers said they feared a lack of competition after Ulster and KBC exits

A group of 16 credit unions that joined forces with Fexco to develop new financial products for the sector is targeting increasingly disillusioned retail bank customers who are concerned about competition in the Irish market.

Metamo, the joint venture between the Kerry-based fintech and some of Ireland’s largest credit unions, has said there are clear opportunities for the sector in the new banking landscape.

Research conducted on behalf of Metamo by Amárach indicates that some 82 per cent Irish consumers fear that the decrease in competition caused by the exit of Ulster Bank and KBC Bank will negatively impact consumers.

Some 25 per cent of consumers, meanwhile, say they are planning to open a credit union account and 44 per cent who already have credit union accounts say they plan to increase their usage.


It comes ahead of the launch on Monday of Metamo’s Quantum AI open banking system, which is integrated into each of the 16 credit unions, allowing borrowers to get loan approval remotely from home.

Metamo said the new system can increase accessibility, accelerate loan approval times and “significantly reduce paperwork”.

“Credit unions are a vital and trusted pillar of their communities, but many are challenged to bridge the gap to compete with other financial services institutions,” Metamo chief executive Alan Kelly said before Monday’s launch event in Dublin. “Unsurprisingly, the recent exit of retail banks is something that consumers are worried about.

“Credit unions have an opportunity to play a greater role in the banking ecosystem. However, they must innovate to meet consumer needs.”

David Malone, chief executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions, said the increasing digitisation of the sector will help it compete for a bigger share of the bank market.

“The Irish League of Credit Unions recognises the importance of combining ‘tech’ and ‘touch’ to offer a full range of choices to members in credit unions across the country – for those who want the in branch personal touch, and for those who wish to transact online or through their mobile.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times