Credit unions with thousands of Laois members join €10 million alliance

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

credit union

Pictured at the launch of Metamo today are (l to r): Joe O’Toole (Chair, MetaCU), Sean Dunne (People First Credit Union), Denis McCarthy (CEO, Fexco)

Thousands of credit union members in Laois are set to be part of a new €10 million collaboration with Irish-based international financial technology company Fexco in the formation of a new joint venture to be named Metamo.

People First Credit Union and St Canices Credit Union are among 16 of Ireland’s largest credit unions to join Metamo. It is described as a 50:50 joint venture between the 16 investing credit unions incorporated under the name MetaCU and Fexco, which is claimed to be one of Ireland’s largest financial services companies.

MetaCU credit unions represent over 480,000 members from across the country – including 40,000 from People First Credit Union. A statement said the combined assets of over €3billion (c.19% of the sector).

A launch statement said the primary objective of Metamo is to support credit union 'viability and sustainability' through the provision of a 'more complete and modernised suite of financial products including enhanced lending capabilities'.

The statement said Metamo would be 'uniquely positioned to develop more efficient operating systems' for People First and other credit unions in areas like process improvement, risk management and technology delivery.

The initial focus of the venture is on collaboration is to identify and develop products and solutions required by members. It is claimed that Metamo will offer these solutions to all other credit unions in the country who are not part of the joint venture in order to 'sustain the continued development of the sector'.  

While the project is at an early stage, it is understood that the alliance could mean enhanced loans for business and personal borrowers. It may also mean the provision of mortgages and financial products like insurance and investments. 

Metamo will also look to help credit unions with risk management, IT infrastructure, policy and legal requirements as well as helping credit unions to improve their online offering.

Sean Dunne, CEO of People First Credit Union looked forward to the new collaboration.

“This is an exciting day for People First Credit Union as our collaboration with Metamo will allow us to expand our service and product range which we provide to over 40,000 members. The People First Credit Union plays an integral role within the local communities of Laois and Kildare and becoming part this joint venture means we can further develop and streamline our services and products while keeping pace with other financial service providers,” he said. MORE BELOW TABLE OF CREDIT UNIONS INVOLVED.

Claire Lawton is manager of St Canice’s Credit Union.

“This is an exciting day for St Canice’s Credit Union which I am convinced will allow us to provide an improved service and set of products to our members. St Canice’s Credit Union is an Integral part of communities in counties Kilkenny, Laois and Carlow, and becoming part of the Metamo joint venture will mean we can modernise to keep pace with other financial service providers,” she said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

Pictured at the launch of Metamo today are (l to r): Denis McCarthy (CEO, Fexco), Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Claire Lawton (St Canice’s Credit Union), Joe O’Toole (Chair, MetaCU)

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, attended the launch.  He said credit unions hold a unique and special standing as one of the most trusted brands in the country. He said they continue to provide invaluable services to local communities promoting financial inclusion.

"I am delighted to see collaboration within the sector that will support its continued viability and sustainability.  Members of all credit unions stand to benefit from the enhanced products and services, more efficient operations and improved service delivery that Metamo will provide.

"Collaborative efforts for the sector can come in many forms and I am encouraged by, and supportive of, the many projects designed to drive the sector forward, including the venture being launched by Metamo. I would like to congratulate the credit unions and Fexco on this initiative and to wish them every success into the future,” he said.

Joe O’Toole is Chairperson of MetaCU – the entity comprising the 16 credit unions investing in Metamo.

“Metamo brings unprecedented scale to any previous sector initiative and signals a new and exciting development in the financial services industry. The company will deliver new income streams and improved processes for the investing credit unions and has the potential to transform the entire sector.

“We identified Fexco as our partner based on their familiarity with the sector, having provided foreign exchange services to credit unions for over 20 years. In addition, we will benefit from Fexco’s technical expertise and commercial delivery focus. For Metamo, Fexco is a natural fit.

“The multi-million euro investment by the credit unions and Fexco in the establishment of Metamo is a significant vote of confidence in the future of these credit unions,” he said.

Denis McCarthy, CEO of Fexco commented said participating in Metamo allows Fexco to leverage two key strengths; strategic investment and new product development.

"Like the credit unions, Fexco understands the value of supporting local communities, indeed we remain loyal to Killorglin where the company was first founded, employing approximately 1,000 staff there today. We enjoy a longstanding relationship with the credit union sector in Ireland having provided foreign exchange services to them for over two decades.

"I look forward to broadening the scope of that work through the establishment of Metamo which, through strong collaboration, will ultimately safeguard the sector while delivering better products for members,” he said. 

Metamo will be based in Kerry with offices in Dublin.  The company is actively recruiting senior management team having appointed Neil Hosty as CEO in 2019. Mr Host is said to have over 20 years’ experience in the financial services sector and has held various senior executive positions in the Irish and US banking sectors.

Portlaoise Credit Union has around 40,000 members in the Laois and Kildare areas thanks to mergers with Abbyleix Credit Union and Athy Credit Union in 2015 and 2017 respectively. People First employs 44 staff members across branches in Abbeyleix, Athy, Portlaoise, Stradbally and Ballinakill.

St Canice's in Kilkenny has 57,000 members. It has expanded in recent years into Laois absorbing branchs in Durrow, Rathdowney and Mountrath.

Headquartered in Killorglin, Co. Kerry, Fexco employs over 2,300 people across its companies across Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, North America and Latin America.

Fexco says it serves some of the world’s biggest brands across multiple industries, predominantly in the payments and FX sectors. It says its products and services include: currency conversion, multi-currency Pricing (MCP), tax-free shopping and retail. Fexco also offers managed business solutions and outsourcing services as well as payment management solutions through its corporate payments business.

More information is available at www.metamo.ie