NCUA Chair Rodney Hood Cites World Council Project in Africa as Example of the Industry Expanding Financial Inclusion2020-07-08
The chair of the national agency that regulates United States' credit unions cited the work World Council is doing to expand financial inclusion in Africa during a July 8 webinar presentation to the Institute of International Bankers (IIB).
In his keynote address for the IIB's "Virtual Summit on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion," National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chair Rodney Hood said the financial services industry must use technology in ways that will result in greater financial inclusion across the globe—especially in light of COVID-19.
"I recognize that all of your institutions are looking at how fintech can be used to improve efficiency or customer service, especially as the pandemic has driven increasing numbers of banking customers into a digital world," said Hood.
But Hood added that even after the COVID-19 pandemic passes, fintech tools can also enable the industry to connect with minority communities, rural communities and other underserved populations.
"For example, in West Africa, the World Council of Credit Unions, through its Technology and Innovation for Financial Inclusion (TIFI) Project, is working with the Confederation of Financial Institutions (CIF) of West Africa to create a digital credit union," said Hood. "By exploring opportunities for partnership with technology and business development providers, the project’s goal is to improve small- and medium-enterprise lending strategies in developing countries.".
Beyond strengthening its relationship with CIF to see that digital credit union through to its completion, the TIFI project is also continuing discussions with Burkina Faso's national credit union association, Réseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina (RCPB), as it seeks to strengthen operations there and work through the RCPB's network of credit unions.
The TIFI project has also begun initial landscaping of the Senegalese market and established a partnership with the local national credit union association, PAMECAS, while working to achieve USAID Mission concurrency to begin operations in that country.
Hood noted the industry needs continued innovations that promote greater financial inclusion like the TIFI Project does.
"The financial services industry has shown great creativity in developing new types of products, but we haven’t always directed those creative energies toward helping the people and communities who need help the most. That seems to be changing for the better, and social impact investing is an excellent example of that change."
The Technology and Innovation for Financial Inclusion Project is funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development Cooperative Development Program (CDP).