Credit Unions are moving to provide members from every section of Irish society access to modern financial services at a fraction of the cost of the traditional banking system.

The credit union movement is currently undergoing the most radical modernisation in its history to improve the quality of service for its members and to attract young people to become members.

An investment by the Credit Union Movement in a sophisticated electronic payment services already has credit unions throughout the country providing electronic payment services, with more credit unions ‘going live’ with the service every month. When fully rolled out, the new service will allow almost three million current credit union members to have payments from a bank, employer or social welfare office paid directly into their credit union account by electronic transfer. It will also enable credit union members to send and receive payments from credit union accounts electronically, to or from other credit union and bank accounts.

A direct debit facility will be available by the end of 2014

This will provide members with a direct debit facility to automatically pay gas, phone and electricity bills from their credit union accounts. Work is also in progress to extend the service to include debit cards and it is planned to have these available in 2015.

This electronic payment services is managed by CUSOP - the Credit Union Service Organisation for Payments. This ‘not for profit’ organisation enables all Credit Unions, irrespective of their size, to have access to payments, products and services. This will improve the services provided to current members and contribute to attracting new young members as well as encouraging financial Inclusion for all members of society.

CUSOP CEO Kevin O'Donovan said: "there will be more than 60 participating credit unions before the year end and the plan is to have up to 200 credit unions, across the country, offering this service to their members by the end of 2015. Sixteen credit unions have introduced the first phase of the scheme - the acceptance of electronic payments. They include Malahide Credit Union, Dublin; St Brigid’s Credit Union Clara, Co Offaly; Rathfarnham Credit Union, Dublin; Carrickmacross Credit Union, Co Monaghan; and New Ross Credit Union, Co Wexford, Portlaoise Credit Union, Sligo, Cuchullain Credit Union Dundalk and Finglas Credit Union, Dublin".

While it is up to each individual credit union to determine charges, thus far no charges have been levied on existing participating individual credit union members. It is anticipated that charges, if introduced, will be considerably less than charges imposed by mainstream banks.

With growing pressure on individuals to receive income and pay bills electronically, and with the increasing costs associated with mainstream banking, this new credit union initiative provides a viable community- based alternative to mainstream banking for current and future credit union members.

Full details are available from your local credit union and

Published: 10 June 2014