A review has been ordered into operations at Ireland's 419 credit unions.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has ordered a root-and-branch examination of how the sector is regulated, as debts and losses mount.
The Financial Regulator has appointed consultants Grant Thornton to carry out the review.
They will examine the financial soundness of credit unions in a bid to get a handle on bad debts and losses on risky investments.
Areas to be covered will include the arrangements made by credit unions to ensure they have enough liquid funds, officials qualifications, and limits on certain types of lending.
It is hoped the review will ensure the stability of the credit union movement is preserved.