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62% of credit unions offer payment holidays amid Covid-19 crisis

62% of credit unions have introduced payment holidays as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, a new survey of credit union CEOs and managers across the country shows.

The survey also found that the three most in-demand services for credit unions have been the rescheduling of loans, the provision of bespoke services to cocooning members and express lodgements. 

It noted that Connacht had the highest incidence of loan rescheduling requests.  

The Covid-19 lockdown required credit unions to adapt quickly to changing member demands. 

Increased remote customer engagement, unsurprisingly, has been a strong feature of Covid-19 services provided by credit unions to members over recent months. 

Today’s survey noted that of the services provided by credit unions during Covid-19, online and telephone banking, at 72% and 59% respectively, had the greatest levels of engagement by members.

The biggest challenges facing credit unions themselves during the months ahead included a lack of borrowing appetite amongst members, operating costs including regulatory levies and a decline in income leading to viability issues for credit unions. 

80% of those surveyed believe that rescheduling loan repayments is the measure that can most assist credit union members in the period ahead, followed by community supports (46%) and back-to-business loans (43%). 

There was also strong support for working capital loans for members in Munster and Connacht – 51% and 48% respectively. 

The research was undertaken on behalf of the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) by i-Reach. 

ILCU President Gerry Thompson said the survey provides a welcome snapshot into the work and demands on credit unions, from the perspective of those to the fore in delivering financial services to its members during Covid-19. 

“Credit unions throughout the pandemic have strived to ensure continuity of service for the 3.1 million members who use credit union services across the Republic of Ireland. This has included keeping our offices open throughout lockdown; expanding online and remote services and providing tailored financial services to those cocooning at home,” Mr Thompson said. 

He said that each individual credit union is working with its members and actively encouraging them to engage with their local credit unions to work through any financial difficulties at this unprecedented time. 

“From the perspective of the long term viability of credit unions themselves, it is equally clear that Covid-19 and its effects such as a lower appetite for borrowing or the reserving requirements which must be met by credit unions will present challenges in the months ahead,” the ILCU President said.

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