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Haitian Credit Unions Buck Global Liquidity Trend During Crisis

The content for this post was provided by World Council’s Haiti Accessible Finance Activity team, a USAID-funded project.

While credit unions in most of the world are struggling with liquidity due to a greater number of members making cash withdrawals to survive the COVID-19 crisis, credit unions in Haiti have been able to keep liquidity levels close to normal throughout the pandemic.

Credit unions in the Caribbean nation are maintaining about 24% liquidity on average per regulations. That means they still have room to provide loans to essential businesses that are still operating, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and medical providers.

Field Officer Banking helps grow savings

Credit unions across the country are limiting withdrawals, a common practice in Haiti due to the large number of economic and political crises the country has endured. We have observed that during previous periods of insecurity, members have tended to maintain their savings.

Reduced hours of operations have likely also helped with liquidity. Credit unions are only open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Most credit unions in Haiti are already equipped with windows at teller stations. That is a bonus during this crisis, because with no institutional digital services available, members seeking cash or loans must visit their credit union branch to make transactions.

An exception in the area of digital services is field officer banking, branded as Kes Pam Pi Pre’m (KPPP) in Haiti, or ‘My Credit Union Close to Me’ in English, made available through the Haiti Accessible Finance Activity. Rural Agents from formal financial institutions use motorbikes to reach rural areas, bringing financial services through smartphones or tablets with Bluetooth printers. They can carry out transactions remotely online or offline. Despite the pandemic, savings made through the KPPP program grew by 25% in the quarter ending on March 31.

Regulator waives fees, principal payments

The Bank of the Republic of Haiti, the nation’s central bank and regulator for all financial institutions, has put some relief measures.

There is a moratorium on loan principal payments for three months, during which only interest will be due. There is also a waiver on all late fees for three months. However, the waivers only apply to credit union members who request the waivers.