The visit was part of an ongoing international exchange between the Paraguayan credit union association Central de Cooperativas del Area Nacional Ltda. (CENCOPAN) and MnCUN established in 2004 through the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. This year's exchange highlighted Minnesota credit unions' advocacy activities and focused on industry issues such as use of social media, branch design, policies and procedures, and uses of technology.
In a meeting with MnCUN, the Paraguayan visitors learned about the association's structure, activities and service to credit unions and received overviews in governmental affairs, education, compliance and communications. They also discussed in depth MnCUN's for-profit activities and the role they play fulfilling credit unions' products and services needs.
On Dec. 7, they met with Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove), who discussed the relationship between lobbyists and legislators and the importance of meeting with constituents and representatives from various industries. Gov. Mark Dayton provided a written greeting, thanking the visitors for their "dedication to the credit unions of Paraguay and commitment to the credit union philosophy of 'people helping people.'"
The delegation also met with Minnesota Department of Commerce Deputy Commissioner of Administration Steve Carlson and Credit Union Program Director Carl Schwartz, who discussed the coordination and cooperation between the credit union regulatory and oversight organizations and provided insight into the proactive nature of U.S. regulators and the standard monitoring mechanisms used.
Credit unions the group visited included Hiway FCU and St. Paul FCU in St. Paul; SouthPoint FCU, New Ulm; and SPIRE FCU, Falcon Heights. These credit unions highlighted their approach to meeting members' needs and presented information about information technology infrastructure and security, internet banking, branch management, collections processes and business continuity.
While in the state, the delegation also explored Minnesota's culture, spent time in several credit unions' presidents' homes, visited the Mall of America, and experienced snow for the first time.
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