Credit unions are about to make a pitch to get thousands of Ulster Bank checking account customers to sign up with them.
The move comes as the main checking account product provided by credit unions is expected to add Apple Pay to its offering next week.
The Currentaccount.ie brand already offers Google Pay and Fitbit Pay, as well as debit cards, online banking and a mobile app.
Five other credit unions have signed up to offer the checking account, according to Seamus Newcombe of Currentaccount.ie, which was set up by credit unions to provide the checking account.
He said 45 of the state’s largest credit unions are now registered to offer the account through the Currentaccount.ie brand, with around 50,000 accounts opened.
Central Bank-approved, the credit union checking account offers a Mastercard debit card, free point-of-sale and contactless payments, standing orders and debit processing, and mobile and internet banking.
There is a monthly fee of € 4, which financial experts said was the best value on the market.
There is also an overdraft facility, but credit unions do not charge additional interest on unauthorized overdrafts.
Mr Newcombe said his organization and member credit unions will make a case for some of the 500,000 checking accounts that are expected to be closed when Ulster Bank closes.
Permanent TSB is likely to take over the mortgage and deposit accounts of Ulster Bank when it exits this market next year, but the 500,000 current accounts may not be transferred to Permanent TSB.
Difficulties in transferring current accounts, with constantly changing balances and complex instructions such as direct debits, from one bank to another prevent Ulster Bank from transferring them to Permanent TSB. Accounts can be closed instead.
Some of those affected by the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close 88 branches and the shutdown of KBC Bank may also be looking for an alternative current account provider, Newcombe said.
He said the 45 credit unions offering the checking account product represent about half of the members of all credit unions across the state and have 185 branches between them.
“Credit unions are a credible alternative to banks. They are trustworthy, have the branch network and now have the technical capacity to offer current accounts and online banking services.
“We are ready to play for the 500,000 Ulster Bank accounts,” he said.
Credit unions have invested heavily in technology to improve the member experience, he added.
“You can open a checking account online without even having to visit the credit union, or branch if you prefer – the important difference is that you have a choice.”
Members can access and control their finances 24/7 and 365 days a year online and via their mobile phone.
Fintechs like Revolut and N26 don’t offer loans as part of their accounts, he said.