CUs Contribute to Global Financial Inclusion, WOCCU Tells G-20

Access to Economic Infrastructure Needed by Financial Cooperatives Worldwide

August 30, 2010

MADISON, Wis. — Financial inclusion initiatives by the Group of 20 (G-20) nations would strongly benefit from the involvement of credit unions, especially in terms of their capabilities in outreach to the poor, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) told the G-20's Access Through Integration Sub-Group (ATISG) recently. But appropriate political pressure must be applied to make various countries' financial infrastructures available to prudentially supervised financial cooperatives in order for credit unions to effectively serve the global poor.

WOCCU's comments were contained in a letter sent earlier this month to ATISG committee co-chairs Paul Flanagan, general manager of international finance for the Australian Treasury, and Rodrigo Pereira Porto of the Central Bank of Brazil. The letter, submitted as follow-up to WOCCU's participation in ATISG's July 13 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, reaffirmed credit unions' role in helping the G-20 accomplish its financial inclusion goals.

"Although WOCCU is supportive of the ATISG's Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion, we believe there are multiple areas in which the G-20's efforts could complement the work of credit unions in the private sector," said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services and the letter's author.

WOCCU identified specific areas in which credit unions could assist in the G-20's financial inclusion efforts, including the following:

  • Credit unions could be more effective in serving marginalized and remote, consumers if they were given greater access to countries' financial infrastructure. Although credit unions already work under prudential oversight and can accept savings deposits, they often are excluded from direct access to deposit insurance, securitization markets, payment and settlement systems, card networks, credit bureaus and central bank liquidity resources. WOCCU recommended that the G-20 encourage standards-setting bodies worldwide to allow non-bank financial institutions access to these critical components of the financial infrastructure.
  • Innovative credit unions, especially in Mexico and Brazil, have found ways to reach out to the rural poor by using technological alternatives that literally take credit union services to members' doors or use multiple delivery channels to assure access to services. Providing credit unions access to sufficient resources will further increase access to services and promote the G-20s' financial inclusion goals.

WOCCU's letter also described the global trade association's efforts to build credit union supervisory capacity through its support of the International Credit Union Regulators Network (ICURN), a four-year-old organization of international regulators from 19 different agencies with statutory responsibility for the countries they represent. ICURN held its most recent meeting in conjunction with The 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas in July, attracting 30 representatives from six continents.

The letter also mentioned the United Nations' designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives as a potential platform for providing additional stimulus for credit unions' inclusion by the G-20 in support of its economic goals.

"We believe the G-20's financial inclusion efforts can best complement the private sector efforts of credit unions by keeping up the political pressure to open up the financial infrastructure to prudentially supervised and pro-poor institutions," Grace wrote.

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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: (608) 395-2000