Central 1 Credit Union and Credit Union Central Alberta Ltd. have started merger discussions with the goal of enhancing core services to more than 190 credit unions in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, the two organizations said Monday.

During the discussions, the centrals will evaluate whether an opportunity exists through consolidation, to achieve efficiencies, offer a stronger liquidity structure, greater diversification of funding sources and better capacity in the areas of finance, payments and trade services.

Any proposal to merge would be subject to the approval of regulatory authorities and the boards of directors and shareholders of both centrals.

These discussions follow from the changing landscape of the credit union system. The growing trend of individual credit unions merging is resulting in larger credit union organizations with a greater concentration of assets and members and more complex service needs. The centrals will evaluate whether a merged central could more effectively meet the needs of credit unions in the long term.

“Pursuing these discussions with Central 1 will allow us to fully analyze how our combination might enhance our capacity to better meet the needs of credit unions and support their continued expansion in the marketplace,” says Graham Wetter, Alberta Central’s president and CEO.

Don Rolfe, Central 1’s president and CEO, noted that, “A merger of our organizations would be another step towards the development of a strong, national organization to support Canada’s growing and vibrant credit union system. To effectively support credit unions, we need to look at ways to leverage our collective strengths.”

Central 1 and Alberta Central act as the central financial facilities and trade associations for the B.C. and Ontario, and the Alberta, credit union systems, respectively.