If you had to pick one thing that jumps out from the pages of World Council of Credit Unions’ expanded 2021 Statistical Report, it would be that digital products and services are an overwhelming priority for credit unions around the world.
New for 2021, World Council asked national credit union associations to identify the top priorities for their member credit unions moving forward. Out of eight possible options, 81% of the more than 40 credit union associations who responded to that portion of our survey ranked digitalization among their top three priorities. That was 15% higher than the second highest priority of increasing membership and asset growth.
And the prioritization of digital growth was widespread among credit union associations across six regions, including.
- Africa 100%.
- Oceania 100%
- Latin America 89%.
- Asia 86%.
- Caribbean 80%.
- Europe 75%.
Only credit union associations in North America (United States and Canada), where digital products and services are far more prevalent among credit unions, did not list digitalization as a top priority.
For credit unions in other areas of the world, the growth of digital products and services is the key to growing membership, savings, loans and assets.
“The challenge of the cooperative movement to improve the quality of life of its members requires bringing affordable and accessible products and services to their communities,” wrote a representative for FENACOAC, World Council’s direct member credit union association in Guatemala.
Technology brings risk
While the desire to add more digital products and services is strong, many of the same credit union associations that identify digitalization as a top priority also identified technology as a top risk concern.
“These risks are determined taking into account the influence of environmental factors on the development of credit unions, and the rapid development of technological processes and their high cost,” wrote a representative for the Association of Credit Partnerships of the Agro-Industrial Complex, World Council’s direct member organization in Kazakhstan.
Along with high costs associated with ever-evolving software, there is a security risk concern the credit union associations also identified.
“These credit unions now look for IT solutions to better serve their members who are spread out in the country and far from their credit union. This software is not free of cybercrimes and attacks,” wrote a representative for CAMCCUL, World Council’s direct member credit union association in Cameroon.
Finding the right balance between priority and risk will be crucial if the global credit union movement expects to successfully move forward with digital growth by 2025 and beyond.
To hear a deep dive into World Council’s 2021 Statistical Report, you can listen to Episode 18 of the Global Credit Union Podcast here.