Credit unions to undercut banks by offering current accounts

Over 110 branches to provide debit cards, standing orders, direct debits and overdrafts

‘This is a really significant day for our Irish credit union sector,’ said Minister for Community Development Michael Ring. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

‘This is a really significant day for our Irish credit union sector,’ said Minister for Community Development Michael Ring. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Ireland’s financial sector is set for a major shake-up with the announcement that some of the largest credit unions in the State are coming together to roll out full-service current accounts.

Under the brand Currentaccount.ie, 30 credit unions with 115 branches across the State will begin to offer members services, including a Mastercard debit card with contactless payments, standing orders, direct debits and overdraft facilities.

The new brand will seek to undercut the charges imposed by banks by offering a standard monthly fee of €4, which will cover unlimited point of sale and contactless transactions, mobile and online transactions, standing orders, direct debits and five ATM withdrawals per month.

“This is a really significant day for our Irish credit union sector,” said Minister for Community Development Michael Ring, who hailed the credit unions involved “for continuing to work together to find ways to support their members and cement their future development”.

Pointing to what he said was “the increasing depletion of some financial services available to communities”, he expressed the view that the initiative “could not have come at a more opportune time” and concluded by saying it was excellent news for communities around Ireland.

‘Important milestone’

Chief executive of currentaccount.ie Seamus Newcombe said the move was “a very important milestone in the development of the credit union sector in this country”.

He said that credit unions offered something different to the major banks “and are considered more friendly and trustworthy”.

He pointed out that for the past five years they have held the accolade for Best Customer Experience in Ireland in the annual CXi Reports.

He said credit union members with savings and loans would now be able to get “a competitive current account from their trusted credit union and they will no longer need to go to a bank to get this service”.

The announcement marks the culmination of three years of development involving stakeholders including credit unions, the Central Bank and third-party debit card providers.

This is not the first time such a move has been mooted. More than three years ago similar plans by a smaller consortium of credit unions to introduce an alternative to bank current accounts were derailed.

The plan collapsed after the Central Bank found it to be a breach of the State’s financial regulations because they had not sought regulatory approval in the first instance.