82% of the public fear that consumers will be impacted by the decrease in banking competition caused by the exit of Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland from the market.

The research carried out by Amárach was commissioned by Metamo, the joint venture between 16 credit unions and Fexco.

Despite the perceived reduction in competition the poll found that there will be a dividend for credit unions from the departures of the banks though.

A quarter of respondents said they were thinking of opening a credit union account.

While 44% of those who already had an account in a credit union said they plan to use it more.

But the research also revealed what people considering joining a credit union most want from it.

Increased digital service offerings were considered the most important factor, coming ahead of lower interest rates and a greater insurance product mix.

The results were published as Metamo launched its Quantum AI lending system, which uses open banking technologies to significantly reduce the requirement for paperwork.

This should lead to much faster approval times, cutting them from days to minutes in some cases.

"Credit unions have an opportunity to play a greater role in the banking ecosystem however they must innovate to meet consumer needs," said Alan Kelly, Metamo CEO.

"The adoption of Quantum AI and its integration with existing digital services will enable credit unions to compete with larger service providers such as banks, while retaining the personal element that is such a crucial component of the trust members have in their credit unions."

The system is already in use in a number of credit unions.