It is welcomed to see that the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) acknowledged the effectiveness of credit unions in maintaining continuity of services for their members during the ongoing pandemic, and that the sector has shown a level of resilience in 2020.
Commenting on the CBI release, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) stated, “Growing savings and a muted demand for credit are not challenges unique to the Credit Union sector, or indeed, to Ireland. Credit Unions have redoubled their focus on serving people with lending needs and also generating non-interest income.
Credit Unions that have digitised their loan marketing, membership and application processes have fared far better during the pandemic, with some seeing little or no reduction in overall loan volumes. Similarly, those Credit Unions that have signed up to the end-to-end home retrofit scheme ProEnergy, from the Solution Centre, are helping the high number of people investing in their homes over the last few months.
A collaboration of Credit Unions, led by CUDA, have weathered this storm better than many, by using digital innovation as a means of reaching a broader audience, by addressing market needs with schemes like the home retrofit initiative, and introducing new value products for people that also generate income for the credit union (home, life and travel insurance).
If Credit Unions are to maintain their strong capital position, further innovation will be required and CUDA are advocating specific reforms and improvements to facilitate serving more lending needs and also ways to facilitate members savings in a safe environment. CUDA are urging the Government to consider permitting Credit Unions to introduce their members to State Savings, where savings are placed directly with the Irish Government. This would alleviate the capital pressure for Credit Unions, as the savings would no longer be on their balance sheet, while allowing them to continue to deliver important services to their members. We are also seeking legislative change to support the introduction of co-lending which would enable a group of Credit Unions to share the risk for some of the larger loan opportunities.”
Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA (Credit Union Development Association)