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dawn.kennedy@cuda.ie

Comment from Dr. Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA), on key changes coming into force today February 21, 2024 as a result of enhancements to the Credit Union Act

By News

Credit unions processed approximately €200m in new mortgage lending in 2023. As a result of the legislative changes which came into force today, we anticipate this volume doubling each year for the next couple of years. We believe the credit union mortgage lending could reach €1bn per annum within 3 to 4 years which could put credit unions in the top 5 mortgage lenders.

For the first time, credit unions can now offer a service or product such as a home loan to a member of another credit union – under a formal arrangement with that other credit union. For householders and aspiring homeowners, this means there will be greater access to fairer mortgages as credit unions will be able to refer mortgage applications to other credit unions should they not be in a position to provide a mortgage themselves. This effectively means that every credit union in the country will be able to offer mortgages.

Credit unions can also refer applications for other products to another credit union – such as current accounts, debit cards, and business loans. Credit unions can now essentially partner with other credit unions to offer their members a wider selection of products.

This new collaboration on lending could generate an additional €2.2bn in lending each year for credit unions.

Credit union members will have more access to digital and automated services as a result of the enhancements to the Credit Union Act. This increased digitalisation will generate cost savings for credit unions in a number of areas. For example, the ability to make credit union annual reports available online will save credit unions an estimated €75m a year in postage and printing costs (see Appendix). All of these cost savings will then be used to deliver even better and lower-cost products to our members.

In addition, increased digitalisation will make it easier for credit unions to sign up new business members, and lend to these businesses– in this regard, we estimate that digitalisation will boost business lending alone by €100m a year.

The changes that come into force today (February 21, 2024) are just the first of a suite of enhancements to the Credit Union Act in the pipeline. Other changes in the pipeline are the establishment of credit unions for credit unions (aka Corporate Credit Unions) and the ability of credit unions to invest in shared services – these will help credit unions provide maximum efficiency for their members by sharing costs and expertise. This in turn will enable credit unions to offer a wider range of lower-cost loans and other products to their members, as well as more favourable returns on savings.

ENDS

 

Appendix

 

 

 

 

CUDA welcomes the passing of the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill at Committee Stage

By News

Mortgage volumes to double each year and SME services to be available across the sector

Commenting as the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill passed at Committee Stage, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA which works with 50 credit unions, said

”At a time when there is a significant housing challenge, a climate change crisis, a looming pension crisis and large-scale bank branch closures, CUDA believes that the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill will immediately deliver increased finance options for individuals, small businesses and for community organisations.

The new proposals will facilitate real collaboration between credit unions. Each credit union is a separate legal entity with its own board and management team, and up to now, they are not permitted to share business. These changes will permit credit unions to collaborate, introduce loans to each other and collectively share loans. They will be able to establish a credit union for credit unions and have greater opportunity to invest in credit union owned service organisations. These changes will help credit unions make a greater financial, social, and environmental contribution as their legislation framework is modernised.

For householders and aspiring homeowners, there will be greater access to fairer mortgages as credit unions will be able to refer mortgage applications to other credit unions should they not be in a position to provide it themselves. This effectively means that every credit union in the country will be able to offer mortgages. Credit unions will process approximately €200m in mortgages in 2023. Following the enactment of this legislation, we anticipate this volume doubling each year for the next couple of years. While the average mortgage interest rate across banks has increased significantly, it has actually decreased across the credit union sector.

For local community organisations seeking larger loans, there will be more access to affordable finance options as their local credit union will be allowed to co-lend and share loans with other credit unions.

For small business owners, it will be a lot easier for the business itself to qualify to become a member of a credit union and therefore access the ever-increasing range of products and high-quality award-winning personal service.

For all credit union members, the changes will allow greater digitalisation of activities to complement the renowned face-to-face personal service.

For the credit unions themselves, they will be able to invest in shared services and establish credit unions for credit unions – this will help provide maximum efficiency for their members by sharing costs and expertise.

Allowing credit unions to do more business through these changes, could effectively see their lending double, increasing to over €10bn.

We extend our sincere appreciation to both Minister Jennifer Carroll-MacNeill and her predecessor Minister Sean Fleming for their invaluable support and significant contributions in helping advance the credit union mission”.

Amendments to Credit Union legislation

Supporting investment in collaboration

Enhanced collaboration is central to the future of the credit union movement

  1. Proposal to recognise Credit Union Service Organisations (CUSOs) in the Credit Union Act as authorised investments;
  2. Proposal to introduce Corporate Credit Unions as entities through which credit unions can further collaborate.

Improving members services

Enhancing the Common Bond to ensure members can access the fullest range of services

  1. Proposal on the referral of members to allow for the introduction of members to other credit unions to access other services/products;
  2. Proposal to allow credit unions to engage in loan participation lending;
  3. Proposal to allow for credit unions to lend directly to certain classes of public bodies;
  4. Proposal to ensure that clubs, societies, and companies based in a common bond are members;
  5. Proposal to make an annual report available to members electronically, e.g. via the credit union website;
  6. Proposal that every credit union publish a digital map or provide a description of their common bond on their website and in their annual report,

Supporting improvements in Governance

Enhanced governance to enable boards to focus less on operational matters and more on strategy and business models.

  1. Proposal to enhance the role of the CEO in relation to the board by allowing flexibility to add the CEO as a board member;
  2. Proposal to amend the minimum number of board meetings from ten to six;
  3. Proposal to allow greater flexibility in requirements to review policies from an annual basis to every three years;
  4. Proposal to allow the Board to delegate loan rejection appeals to the executive team;
  5. Proposal to amend the language in legislation related to the responsibility for approving loans and membership – this will facilitate the use of modern technologies.

CBI Public Statement: Update on Central Credit Register error

By News

The Central Bank of Ireland issued a public statement on 21 August 2023 in relation to an archiving error that affected the retention period of some information on borrowers’ credit reports held on the Central Credit Register (CCR). Today (13 October 2023) the Central Bank is providing an update on the matter.

As previously outlined, certain borrower information was retained on the CCR for up to an additional three months, and was available for inclusion in credit reports between 1 June and 7 August 2023. While the information was an accurate representation of what was previously reported by lenders, the additional three months of information should not have been held or made available in credit reports during this period. This constitutes a breach under data protection legislation.

The error was first brought to the Central Bank’s attention by a member of the public on 3 August. It was fully resolved by 7 August 2023, with the database reflecting the correct five-year retention period. Credit reports provided from 7 August 2023 do not reflect any additional information.

Once the error was rectified, the Central Bank focused on establishing any impact of this incident on borrowers. The main mechanism through which borrowers could be impacted is where the CCR contained information around loan performance over these additional three months, which may have adversely affected decisions by lenders to extend new credit or decisions by borrowers to seek new credit.

As the information held on the CCR is one of many factors that lenders use when making credit decisions, assessing the impact of this error has been a complex process. The CCR does not decide if a loan is approved or not, lenders make that decision. The CCR also does not calculate a credit score. Our assessment of the impact has required extensive engagement with 270 lenders to determine whether, and if so how, the additional credit information influenced their credit decisions.

To date, the Central Bank’s investigation has established that:

  • The records of 20,872 borrowers who had performance data pointing to repayment difficulties in May, June or July 2018 (the three additional months that should have been deleted as planned) were accessed by either lenders or borrowers.
  • These borrowers were associated with 31,013 enquiries by lenders (as borrowers may have made more than one credit application). Within that:
  • For 30,963 credit enquiries, lenders have confirmed that their credit decisions were not impacted by the excess data. There are a range of reasons for not being impacted, including lenders’ own lending policy and the timeframe that it considers.
  • For 9 credit enquiries, lenders have confirmed that the excess data was one of the factors which influenced their credit decisions. These enquiries related to personal loans and credit card products.
  • For 41 credit enquiries, lenders have not yet been able to confirm if there was any impact. The Central Bank continues to engage with lenders in relation to this cohort.
  • There were 820 borrowers who accessed their own report, which included information that pointed to repayment difficulties during the additional three months. The records of some of these borrowers were also accessed by lenders, as above.

A phased communication process is underway and the Central Bank has written to those identified as being at highest risk of being impacted by the error. All borrowers associated with applications where lenders have confirmed that the excess data influenced their credit decisions have been contacted. The Central Bank has engaged with the lenders to ensure that there is a contact point in place for impacted borrowers should they wish to discuss their previous application or re-apply for credit. The lenders have also confirmed the excess information previously received will not impact on any new applications.

In light of this incident and to strengthen controls in this area, the Central Bank is also initiating a broader external review of the data management and data protection controls in place with respect to the operation of the CCR.

The Central Bank has engaged with the Data Protection Commission (DPC) throughout this incident. We have received notification from the DPC of the commencement of an Inquiry into this breach. The Central Bank takes our data protection obligations seriously and will continue to engage fully with the DPC on these matters.

Vasileios Madouros, Deputy Governor for Monetary and Financial Stability, said: “The Central Bank of Ireland sincerely regrets, and apologises for, this error. While we have a range of controls in place in the operation of the CCR, it is clear they were insufficient to prevent this specific incident. This falls short of our own standards and we have implemented immediate measures to prevent this error from reoccurring. We are also commissioning a broader external review of data management and data protection controls in place when operating the CCR. The CCR is an essential service to enable better credit decisions by borrowers and lenders, and it is crucial that we hold ourselves to the highest standards in operating it. We will continue to engage fully with the Data Protection Commission.”

Further information on how the Central Credit Register processes data can be viewed at http://www.centralcreditregister.ie/. Our public contacts helpline can be reached on 0818 681 681. Borrowers can request a copy of their credit report through the CCR website.

Further information

Media Relations:  media@centralbank.ie

Ewan Kelly: ewan.kelly@centralbank.ie / 086 158 7094

Bizfin – CUDA Credit Unions partner with Government in Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme

By News

Credit Unions support local businesses impacted by the economic consequences of the conflict in Ukraine by partnering with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) on the Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme

 

The Credit Union Development Association [CUDA], launched its Small Business Lending solution for credit unions to offer business loans to SMEs, BizFin, Smart business finance, made simple’ in early 2021.

CUDA announced today that two of its large credit unions, Capital Credit Union and Credit Union Plus, with a combined membership of over 100,000, are now successfully partnering with Government in the low-cost Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme through BizFin. CUDA believes that credit unions will succeed in working with micro, small & medium sized businesses, adversely impacted by the conflict in Ukraine who are facing supply chain disruptions and increased input (including energy) costs.

Credit unions believe that SMEs have faced challenging trading conditions for over 3 years, which may have led to a sustained lack of investment, while necessary at the time, could have a detrimental impact on competitiveness.  The expectation is that as the economy gets back on its feet, lending should also grow.  Economic forecasts for the Irish economy remain positive [1]and lending will be required as part of SME’s capital investment strategy to fund expected growth.

The clear benefit for Credit Unions on partnering on a Credit Guarantee Scheme, is they are in receipt of an 80% Guarantee from the SBCI /or the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, enabling them to offer competitively priced loans to their business members.

CUDA acknowledge that credit unions, who were again voted most trusted organisation in 2023 are more involved in their local communities, a consequence of which is more local businesspeople will be willing to sit down and discuss the merit of them participating in this scheme.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA commented, “

“As the trusted provider of financial services in communities throughout Ireland, we believe that many sole-traders and small business owners will feel more comfortable dealing with credit unions, particularly where they can receive a fast answer to their credit application. Many of these solid businesses are struggling due to high increase in costs, particularly energy costs and are now at a point where they need to review their working capital to ensure they are well positioned for the future.

We have designed the standalone business website, Bizfin.ie, to support this initiative which will be accessible to all business customers of the participating credit unions. They will be able to apply for business loans as well as apply for credit union membership via this site.”

Ends

  

About Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme

The Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme is offered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to provide viable SMEs, including primary producers, impacted by economic challenges arising from the conflict in Ukraine with access to low-cost finance.

The scheme supports economic activity in Ireland, facilitating the provision of working capital and medium-term investment finance to businesses adversely impacted by the conflict in Ukraine who are facing supply chain disruptions and increased input (including energy) costs.

Borrowers will contribute to the cost of the scheme by paying a risk premium on the credit advanced. This premium will be incorporated into the margin on the loan, collected by the on-lender and paid to Government of Ireland.

 Loan Features

  • Loans from €10,000 to a maximum of €1,000,000 / €400,000 for BizFin Credit Unions, per borrower (subject to Loan Amount Criteria, see below for further details)
  • Repayment terms of between 3 months up to 6 years
  • Eligible financial products: term loan facilities.
  • Loan amounts less than €250,000 will be unsecured.
  • Amounts greater than €250,000 may be secured; however, a personal guarantee may only be sought in circumstances where it is required to capture supporting security, or where it is an uncollateralised personal guarantee and is limited to a maximum of 20% of the initial finance agreement amount.
  • Up to 90 days interest and/or capital moratoria are possible under the scheme. These remain at the discretion of the participating on-lender.
  • Loans will be available up to the 31 December 2024 or until the scheme has been fully subscribed.

 Eligibility Criteria

Borrowers must self-declare that:

  • Their costs have increased by a minimum of 10% on their 2020 cost figures due to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Finance is being sought specifically as a result of difficulties being experienced due to the conflict in Ukraine and meet the specific criteria as set out in the Loan Purposes section.
  • Finance is being sought for a new loan. Refinancing of existing loans is not

How to apply

Step 1 – Applicants must first register on the SBCI Hub and submit an online Eligibility Application Form to check if they can access the scheme. Once the online form is completed, successful applicants will be issued with an eligibility code.

Step 2 – The applicant must provide this eligibility code to the Credit Union to begin their credit application process.

Please note that the SBCI eligibility code is not a guarantee of credit approval.

 

About BizFin

This Business & Community Lending solution is an initiative that commenced in participating credit unions in 2021. These credit unions have a strong desire to serve other sectors of the credit union   membership, namely micro, small & medium sized enterprises, and community clubs & associations.

Our strategy is to deliver prudent high quality lending growth within our catchment area, by offering secured and unsecured longer-term lending.

This is achieved by having the necessary in-house expertise & staff, coupled with the close collaboration of contributing credit unions.

In BizFin we have developed a uniform & consistent approach, so that every applicant will have the same transparent, professional & personal experience in every participating credit union.

If you would like to know more about a business or community loan, including the Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme, visit BizFin.ie.

 

[1] European Commission Economic Forecast for Ireland May 2023[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

CUDA comments on the CBI Report on Financial Conditions of Credit Unions

By News

The Central Bank of Ireland have today (30th March 2023) published its ninth edition of the Financial Conditions of Credit Unions Report.

Commenting on the Central Bank’s report on the Financial Conditions of the Credit Union sector, ‘Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association, which works with over 50 credit unions, said

“Loan volumes are up, and the loan-to-asset ratio is definitely improving, but not by as much or as quickly as we would like. We believe that there’s an absolute need to resolve this by expanding the loan profile of credit unions and prudently growing loan books across the sector.  

Competition in the mortgage market has reduced following the departures of Ulster Bank and KBC, and with the non-banks struggling to offer competitively priced products, there’s a clear opening for credit unions to substantially expand their mortgage products. CUDA has been at the forefront of this, with its members initially entering the mortgage market in 2018 targeting specific lending needs, since 2021 we have worked with credit unions to expand their offerings and we are now working to expand this to more credit unions. 

New legislation that is progressing through the Oireachtas and scheduled for enactment this year will support this, as it will allow credit unions to refer lending business to each other which means that even those credit unions without mortgage lending underwriting skills will be able to facilitate their members. 

Each credit union is a separate legal entity with its own Board and management team, and they are not currently permitted to share business. These changes will help credit unions make a greater financial, social, and environmental contribution as their legislation framework is modernised.

Credit Unions have significantly modernised in the past decade – their structure, legal and regulatory status, product offerings, and service delivery methods have advanced considerably. In particular their digital capabilities were accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Members can still access the traditional set of personal loans and savings, and now they can also avail of current accounts, ‘one stop shop’ retrofit loans, mortgages, revolving credit, debit cards, community loans, agricultural loans, as well as loans for small businesses.  These are accessible face to face, over the phone or via online facilities.  Recent rises in interest rates will have a significantly positive impact on the ROA for all credit unions as this will result in them getting a better return on their investments.”

CUDA welcomes the New Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance

By News, Uncategorized

Credit unions have welcomed the appointment of Jennifer Carroll MacNeill as the new Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance.

Commenting on the appointment, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA,

We welcome the appointment of Minister Carroll MacNeill at this key time for credit unions.  We look forward to working closely with the new Minister on the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill 2022 as it progresses though the stages to enactment.  For many years credit unions have operated within outdated legislation – legislation that is not fit for purpose in this modern era. It is so important now that we ensure the final drafting is appropriate to avail of this unique opportunity that will facilitate credit unions to offer and deliver more products and services to existing and future credit union members.  At a time when our society faces many challenges, this critical element of the Programme for Government will undoubtedly contribute to strengthening the standard of living for so many people, both at local and national level

Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) delighted to see publication of the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill 2022

By News

Over many years credit unions have operated within outdated legislation – legislation not fit for purpose in a modern era. For some time now, CUDA has called on the Government to introduce enhancements to the existing credit union legislation to ensure credit unions can reach their potential on behalf of their members.

Today, the Government has published a new Credit Union (Amendment) Bill. On behalf of its members and the credit union sector at large, CUDA welcomes this development. According to Kevin Johnson, CEO CUDA, “this unique opportunity will enable credit unions to offer and deliver more benefits through enhanced products and services to existing and future credit union members”.

Credit Union legislation was last overhauled 10 years ago by the Credit Union and Co-operation with Overseas Regulators Act 2012.

The published amendments will allow greater collaboration and choice when developing credit products and offerings to consumers such as sharing large community project loans amongst a number of credit union participants (“loan sharing” or “loan participation”), and the ability to offer a full range of services to consumers, irrespective of the fact that a credit union may not have that product themselves e.g. mortgages, by introducing the member to a colleague credit union that does offer the product or service (“loan introduction”).  These are standard practices amongst credit unions in other jurisdictions such as Canada.

CUDA particularly welcomes the changes that recognise the great work of volunteer directors, who provide a professional service pro bono. The changes will allow them to focus more on the overarching governance and strategic direction and policy making of the credit union, while allowing a credit union assign new roles, focusing on implementation and operations, to its professional management team.

There is no doubting the trust members place in their credit union. The relationship is unique. CUDA is pleased that the legislative changes will allow credit unions continue their special relationship with members and the community through environmentally friendly methods – including the introduction of digital enhancements to their existing services and facilitating additional loans to the community. However, CUDA is quick to note that credit unions are very aware of the importance of face-to-face interactions with their members. Something that is greatly diminishing in other areas of the banking.

CUDA commends the great work achieved by all stakeholders, noting that the process started out with interested parties having differing views and priorities. The pandemic brought an additional layer of complications. CUDA says that the published Bill is an example of what can be achieved through meaningful cooperation.  CUDA would like to take the opportunity to express its appreciation for the productive contributions of Minister of State, Séan Fleming TD, Minister for Finance, Pascal Donohoe TD, the team at the Department of Finance led by Brian Corr, the Registrar of Credit Unions, Elaine Byrne, and her team at the Central Bank, and our colleagues in CUMA, ILCU and NSF.

CUDA looks forward to the speedy implementation of the legislation to ensure credit unions can continue to deliver their first-rate service – ensuring the best outcomes for credit union members, their communities and the wider Irish economy.

CUDA issues cautious welcome to the publication of the Retail Banking Review

By News

Speaking following the publication of the Report, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, stated that the Review has a welcomed focus on the interests of financial services customers and their communities, but we will need to see detail, such as the definition of terms like ‘reasonable access’, to determine how practical these proposals are.

It is good to see the recognition of credit unions as key players in providing real competition and value to retail consumers of financial services. However, a lot more detail and action is required to ensure the potential that credit unions have becomes a reality. The Credit Union (Amendment) Bill 2022, which is about to be published, needs to be enacted straightaway to facilitate credit union services to be delivered consistently across the country.

The Report sets out recommendations that will reduce the ability of providers of banking services to solely decide who should have services and who shouldn’t. We welcome this as current practice is not consistent with supporting the financial wellbeing of all in our society, and credit unions will continue to lead the way in ensuring that the interest of their consumers is the priority and hopefully others will follow that example.

It is also disturbing that a recommendation is needed requiring providers of retail banking products and services to set out and publish customer charters.

In a sector wide submission to the Credit Union Policy Review February 2021, we recognised the need for a long-term vision that is reflective of the unique role of credit unions and how they will improve the financial, social and environmental well-being of credit union members and their communities. It is encouraging that the Review Team state in this report their understanding that the Department of Finance and the Central Bank will engage constructively, developing new legislation, if required. Hopefully this will also extend to enhancements to credit union regulations.

CUDA looks forward to continuing to constructively work with all the members of the Credit Union Stakeholder Group to continue to improve the customer experience and value proposition that people can get from their credit union.