Central Bank reveals assets being held by credit unions are at record high

Central Bank reveals assets being held by credit unions are at record high

A Central Bank report has found that the total assets held by Ireland's credit union sector now stand at a record high.

The bank's data focuses on the period between March 31, 2013, and March 31, 2018, and finds that total sector assets are at €17.2bn.

It also showed that 53 credit unions have assets of €100m or more and they account for 55% of total sector assets.

Total sector loans amount to €4.5bn, while the average sector loan to asset ratio, a key measure of viability, has remained at 27% since March 2016, having fallen from 35% at March 31, 2013.

The bank also noted that savings continue to outpace loans, with sustained annual growth since 2014. Total savings across the sector today amount to €14.3bn.

Income for the six months to 31 March 31, 2018, continued to fall, a reduction in investment income being cited as a key driver of the decrease, with the bank stating that it "reflects the low interest-rate environment".

Provision write-backs and bad debts recovered have had a positive impact on overall income since 2015. However, this cannot be relied upon in contributing to future income.

Kevin Johnson, CEO CUDA, the Credit Union representative body that manages the Solution Centre, welcomed the results.

The Solution Centre is a not-for-profit collaboration of credit unions that supplies product development and business supports to enable participating credit unions, which now comprises 48 of the larger and more progressive credit unions spanning community, industrial, urban and rural.

Mr Johnson said: “It is fantastic to see cooperation across credit unions working for the benefit of consumers. The loan growth across many of our 48 credit union members using our digital marketing tools would exceed the average outlined in the Central Bank report.

"Loans applications through social media now account for up to 20% of all loan enquiries for some credit unions. Our digital loan services have seen participating credit unions experience a 10-fold increase in their interaction with younger adult members.

"Over 600,000 members are now using digital lending tools, which in turn has resulted in a significant upturn in lending volumes.

"Recent research found that over 59% of credit union members and 38% of non-credit union members would consider switching their mortgage over to a credit union if a better deal was offered." - Kevin Johnson, CEO CUDA.

"CUDA look forward to the pending Central Bank consultation reviewing how loan limits operate that will enable even more consumers avail of the benefits from their credit union.”

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