Overall lending among credit unions swelled in the first three months as the member-owned financial institutions continue to push into the mortgage market which remains dominated by the three main banks operating in the Republic.

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) said overall lending has jumped by 13.6% in the period, compared to the same period a year earlier.

ILCU chief executive David Malone suggested the upcoming results of the Central Bank’s review of the lending framework will allow credit unions to tap into the “constantly growing pipeline of demand for loans”, particularly mortgage loans.

“The changes that we are looking for will allow more mortgages and business lending to improve competition in a safe and prudent manner,” said Mr Malone.

The value of credit union mortgages issued surged 71% in annual terms to the end of March and the credit union mortgage loan book surpassed €500m for the first time, according to ILCU, which added that the organisation is on target to reach €1bn over the next two years.

ILCU, which represents over 90% of the total active credit unions in the Republic, said its members issued around 90,000 loans from January to March.

Credit union mortgages have increased in popularity over the last year due to competitive rates and low competition in the retail banking market, but ILCU proportion of the overall mortgage market is still relatively small. 

Credit unions currently operate in around 400 locations in the Republic, and employ approximately 3,000 staff.

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