Further consolidation in Canada's credit union market is on the horizon, with news Monday that two of the country's biggest credit union organizations have launched merger talks that could lead to a single group representing credit unions in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.

Central 1 Credit Union and Credit Union Central Alberta said they're exploring whether consolidation could save them money, improve liquidity and open up more sources of funding.

Consolidation stats

Central 1 Credit UnionRepresents 111 credit unions in Ontario and 45 in B.C. with assets of $15 billion and 2.9 million members 
Credit Union Central AlbertaRepresents 36 credit unions in Alberta with assets of $1.9 billion and 646,000 members
Sources: Central 1, Central Alberta

"To effectively support credit unions, we need to look at ways to leverage our collective strengths," said Don Rolfe, Central 1’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

Alberta Central's CEO, Graham Wetter, said the talks 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."

Any merger proposal would need regulatory approval and the boards of directors and shareholders of both "centrals" would also need to give the thumbs-up.

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

In 2010, credit union centrals in the Maritimes announced plans to merge, following a similar merger move in B.C. and Ontario.