A group of credit unions in Ireland have come together in an effort to reach tech savvy borrowers in their 20s and 30s through Facebook.
The offer? An online loan with a lightning fast decision.
The application process for these loans reportedly takes less than 30 seconds, and all applicants are promised a speedy response.
Irish Millennials apparently love the concept. Close to half of those who have taken out one a Fast-Track Facebook Loan had never borrowed from a credit union before.
In fact, participating credit unions claim that 10% of their total new loan volume is stemming from these loans, and they think they can kick that to over 20% in the next 24 months.
The idea to offer digital loans through Facebook came from the Solutions Centre, a credit union think tank based in Ireland. This independent innovation incubator was spawned by a group of 38 volunteer credit unions who were looking to accelerate the pace of change in Ireland’s otherwise soporific banking sector. When the group fielded a research study, 57% of respondents said they would prefer not to meet a bank or credit union employee when being assessed for a loan.
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The credit unions participating in the fast-track loan program are promoting them soley through Facebook. The Solutions Centre consortium partnered with various social media and digital marketing experts to create a series of display ads exclusively targeting young adults on Facebook. The ads link to a short, simple online application.
Kevin Johnson, a spokesperson with the Solutions Centre, explained that credit unions taking part in the new Facebook lending program have had to make some radical changes to their own rules. Most notably, credit unions have had to scrub the requirement that someone must be a member for at least three months before they can qualify for a loan.
After a successful pilot in early 2016, the program was rolled out to 16 credit unions that have some 800,000 members between them — that’s roughly one out of every six people in Ireland. Plans are afoot to expand the Facebook loan program to include more credit unions in the near future.
Ireland has more than 400 credit unions boasting a collective membership of 3.3 million people. That’s impressive for a country with a population of only 4.6 million; 72% of them belong to a credit union.
By comparison, Canada has a population of 35 million, of which nearly one in three belong to one of the country’s 350 credit unions.