New research carried out by Wellington IT, the tech partner for the credit union sector, has revealed that 58% of people aged over 16 who don’t use a credit union as their main financial institution would consider switching to a credit union for their day-to-day banking if they were aware of the full range of services available from them – services such as current accounts, online banking, mortgages and loans. This translates to approximately two million people.
Furthermore, the new study – conducted by Censuswide in April 2021 and involving 1,001 consumers in Ireland – found that a similar number of people (55%) would only consider using a credit union as their primary bank if there was access to online banking and mobile apps.
It appears that the majority of Irish consumers are unaware that most credit unions can digitally cater for day-to-day banking needs, with more than two thirds (71%) of respondents saying they didn’t realise that credit unions can offer mobile banking apps, and 61% revealing they didn’t know online banking is offered by the sector.
When it comes to the most important factors that influence people to open an account with a credit union or bank, 62% of respondents cited little or no fees. This was followed by having online access to banking services (53%) and trusting the institution with their money (50%).
Underlining the scale of opportunity for credit unions is that fact that they score very well for trust, and value for money, when compared with traditional banks and fintech companies. 41% of people believe that credit unions are the most trustworthy financial institutions, with the same percent (41%) rating them best for value for money. Credit unions also rank highest for customer service (44%).
Other survey findings reveal that while 81% of consumers have had some form of a credit union account at some stage in their lives, only 7% of people say these institutions are their main financial institution.
Commenting on the findings, Declan Colfer, MD of Wellington IT, said: “This is a golden opportunity to attract the consumers who do not want to bank with traditional banks anymore and to convert ex credit union customers as well as dormant and irregular customers to become much more active members.
“The challenge seems to be the incorrect consumer assumption that credit unions are not competitive from a digital services point of view. This is borne out by the survey, with only 10% of respondents believing credit unions are the most digitally enabled financial institutions. The fact is that modern credit unions offer an enviable array of banking services and digital banking apps and are very well placed to fill the gap left by exiting banks.
“The survey shows that Irish consumers demand 24/7 access to a full suite of banking services. They want to know that they can easily and conveniently manage both their daily activities, such as online banking and bills, as well as their major financial events, including mortgages. The lack of awareness about the digital capabilities of credit unions has no doubt had an impact on their ability to convert consumers to using them as their primary banking facility.
“In particular, we know that younger people, who tend to be tech-savvy, consider digital capabilities as an essential offering when considering where to open their accounts. The public perception is that other institutions have better online access and can better meet banking needs, but this is simply not the case.
“Credit unions must spread the word on just how digitally-enabled their services are and the full range of account products that they offer consumers. After all, in the current landscape in Ireland, there has never been a better time to stand out from the competition and in this sector.”
You can catch up on those survey results in our cuEngage session here.