ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) this past week hosted three credit union professionals from Paraguay in a regulator exchange. The visit was part of Minnesota's partnership with Central de Cooperatives del Area National Ltda. (CENCOPAN), Paraguay's credit union association. MnCUN was partnered with CENCOPAN in 2004 through the World Council of Credit Union's (WOCCU's) International Partnership Program. WOCCU currently supports 28 partnerships between U.S. state leagues and Canadian credit union centrals with foreign credit union organizations.
The three visitors from Asuncion, Paraguay included IT consulting firm president Juan Luis Ferriera, CENCOPAN vice president Pedro Elias Loblein Saucedo and cooperative institute director Maria Mercedes Ortega Martinez. The group visited Minnesota with the goal of learning more about credit union regulations and technology in the U.S.
The Paraguayan representatives began their trip by visiting SouthPoint Federal Credit Union's branches in Sleepy Eye and New Ulm, Minn. During their visit, participants learned about U.S. regulatory structure and processes as they shadowed NCUA examinations. The Paraguayans also investigated the credit union's drive-through technology and daily functions.
"Many of the main ideas behind the regulations in the U.S. and Paraguay are the same. The difference is in the methodology and the processes," said Saucedo. "Our goal is to use the information we learn during this trip to examine the Paraguayan regulations and make the regulatory process more practical and efficient."
In addition to visiting SouthPoint FCU, the Paraguayans attended MnCUN's annual meeting and convention. At the meeting, they met credit union professionals and representatives from around the state and attended several education seminars. Ferriera, Saucedo, and Martinez were formally recognized at an awards banquet, where MnCUN board chairman Dick Nesvold of SouthPoint FCU commended the three for their dedication to their credit unions and the credit union movement.
At the conclusion of their trip, the Paraguayans spent their time touring a variety of places in the Twin Cities, including St. Paul Federal Credit Union, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union and Minnesota Item Processing Corp., MnCUN's check processing CUSO. The group also met with Carl Schwartz, program director for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which regulates Minnesota's state-chartered credit unions, and with Minnesota state legislators to discuss regulation of accounting practices, developing positive relationships with legislators, and fending off banker attacks on the industry.
"The Minnesota Credit Union Network is honored and proud to have such a strong relationship with CENCOPAN," said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president and CEO. "The partnership allows both associations the opportunity to learn from each other's strengths and help each other in the areas that need improvement. More than that, the relationships formed through this partnership enable us to strengthen the credit union movement."
The Minnesota Credit Union Network represents the state's 162 not-for-profit cooperative credit unions serving more than 1.5 million members. For more information, visit www.mncun.org.
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