New York City – At the invitation of the Group of Eight (G-8) Finance Ministers, World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) participated in a private meeting to discuss how to promote remittance services. World Council was one of nine private sector entities invited to participate at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to share views and opinions on remittance and their potential for development with the world's leading finance ministries.
The session focused on what finance ministries could do worldwide to facilitate the senders and receivers of remittances to use depository financial institutions such as credit unions and banks to originate or receive remittances. Dave Grace, WOCCU senior manager of association services, represented credit unions at the meeting, stressing the unique role that credit unions play, relative to other global financial services firms in serving individuals of low and modest means.
"We are pleased to participate in these policy discussions with leading finance ministries, but the real test is what actions they will take," indicated Grace. He continued, "I think the evidence is clear that credit unions are having a significant development impact by offering remittance service to the senders and receivers. Today our message resonated that to further the impact of credit unions in developing nations direct access to clearing and settlement systems is necessary."
Grace indicated specific impediment for credit unions in this area include that lack of direct access to clearing and settlement systems in most developing countries and the need to be able to serve non-member remitters in the United States to compete with the informal non-bank sector. Grace also addressed the perceptions of credit unions as being part of the "informal" sector in developing countries but part of the "formal" sector in developed nations. The concern with this language is that financial ministers from the G-8 are trying to help credit unions in developing nations by talking about the use of the formal sector, but developing country regulators interpret this as discouraging credit union involvement since they are seen as informal entities in developing countries.
The G-8 countries are comprised of finance ministries from the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Russian and the United Kingdom.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency 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 more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.