WOCCU Digitization Efforts Highlighted in CU Broadcast Interview
President/CEO Brian Branch says more digital services are needed for future growth
March 11, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Offering more core services through digital channels is crucial to growing credit union membership in the next decade and beyond, World Council of Credit Unions President & CEO Brian Branch told Mike Lawson of CU Broadcast in an interview at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference.
Whether it is growing credit union membership in Asia, or bringing financial services to refugee camps in Kurdistan, Branch believes providing products that people can access on their smart phones is the key to future growth.
“The Gates Foundation gave us a small grant to tackle this in the Philippines and Indonesia, to create a model that will work in other countries on how to digitize and put core (credit union) services online. Then we don’t want to stop there, we want to tie them into a digital ecosystem in those countries,” said Branch.
WOCCU has launched a project to design interoperable, open-loop, low-cost, real-time payment platforms for its global network of credit unions across Asia, exploring the use of the Mojaloop open-source platform.
This pioneering work builds on WOCCU’s wider digitization goals and the mission of its soon-to-launch Digital Transformation Lab.
Branch also talked to Lawson about his recent visit to refugee camps in Kurdistan, and how that trip has led World Council to look for ways to offer financial services for the people living in those unstable settings.
“We’ve had so many people tell us, ‘oh you can’t do it, it won’t work, it’s too dangerous.’ But we'd start very small,” said Branch, who foresees starting with a "pre-credit union" model in the camps. "This would give these people a sense of hope for the future and that’s what credit unions have always done.”
Branch added that even though the refugees don’t have permanent homes, most do have smart phones. He hopes to work toward a solution that would allow them to have savings and loan opportunities available right on those phones.
“And then when they go back to their hometowns they can take their credit unions with them,” said Branch.
World Council of Credit Unions is currently working on a way to make that vision a reality.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 89,026 credit unions in 117 countries serve 260 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.