New research reveals that 58% of people who do not use a credit union as their main financial institution would consider switching to a credit union for their day-to-day banking if they were aware of the full range of services available from them.

These services would include current accounts, online banking, mortgages and loans.

The research, which was carried out by Wellington IT - the tech partner for the credit union sector - also found that 55% of people surveyed would only consider using a credit union as their primary bank if there was access to online banking and mobile apps.

Wellington IT said it appears that the majority of Irish consumers are unaware that most credit unions can digitally cater for day-to-day banking needs.

71% of respondents said they did not realise that credit unions can offer mobile banking apps, while 61% admitted they did not know online banking was offered by the sector.

When it comes to the most important factors that influence people to open an account with a credit union or bank, 62% of respondents cited little or no fees.

This was followed by having online access to banking services (53%) and trusting the institution with their money (50%), today's research also revealed.

Meanwhile, 81% of consumers have had some form of a credit union account at some stage in their lives, but only 7% of people said that credit unions are their main financial institution.

Declan Colfer, managing director of Wellington IT, said that this is a golden opportunity for credit unions to attract members who do not want to bank with traditional banks anymore.

They should also aim to convert ex-credit union members as well as dormant and irregular members to become much more active members.

This is especially the case as two major players - Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland - are set to the leave the Irish market over the coming years,

"The challenge seems to be the incorrect consumer assumption that credit unions are not competitive from a digital services point of view," Mr Colfer said.

This is borne out by the survey, with only 10% of respondents believing credit unions are the most digitally enabled financial institutions, he said.

"The fact is that modern credit unions offer an enviable array of banking services and digital banking apps and are very well placed to fill the gap left by exiting banks," he added.

He said that credit unions must spread the word on just how digitally-enabled their services are and the full range of account products that they offer consumers.

"After all, in the current landscape in Ireland, there has never been a better time to stand out from the competition and in this sector," Declan Colfer said.