Physical access to financial institutions is a major constraint for low-income populations. WOCCU is developing digital solutions to address the proximity challenge.


At the consumer level: field officer banking 

WOCCU’s partner financial institutions deploy field officers that travel by motorbike to hard-to-reach villages, bringing financial services through smartphones. The field officers form small groups and meet in person with members to collect deposits, loan applications and payments, and sign up new members. Because of this direct contact, previously unbanked individuals become more trusting of financial institutions and begin to access finance and savings. In Mexico, 54 credit unions with 235 points of service (POS) in 22 Mexican states are implementing field officer banking. These financial institutions brought financial services to more than 250,000 marginalized people within three years, which surpassed the program’s target of 15% market penetration.

In Colombia, the field officer banking model has brought affordable and convenient financial services to more than 253,000 low-income, unbanked people, including Afro-Colombians, indigenous groups, farmers, displaced people, and small and medium enterprises in rural and underserved areas.

At the ecosystem level: catalyzing the market 

Following the January 2010 earthquake, WOCCU provided grant incentives to Haitian banks, mobile network operators, and fintech entrepreneurs to launch and scale mobile money solutions in partnership with USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These incentives have enabled financial institutions, mobile network operators, payment providers and other stakeholders to expand their services. In total, 28 financial institutions introduced 39 ICT tools, including a digital agricultural finance tool to underwrite customers in the field. Our work has spurred Haiti’s commercial banks, credit unions and microfinance institutions to begin defining mobile-driven strategies. Mon Cash, a mobile money service offered by Digicel Haiti, currently has almost 900,000 active clients.

At the institution level: shared IT systems

Shared networking solutions enable financial institutions to improve their business processes and operations, allowing them to improve product and service delivery to their customers. This includes shared branching, core banking services (software hosting) and payment platforms.  

In Haiti, we provided a grant to KOTELAM, a 73,243-member credit union, which enabled them to support critical IT upgrades needed to offer increase point-of-service options for current and potential customers. The grant was used to interconnect all their branches which enabled KOTELAM to provide real-time processing and expanded members services.  

In Kenya, WOCCU is working with financial institutions to develop ICT solutions for reaching down-market, which will expand the outreach of financial institutions, reduce the cost of providing financial services to the poor, and create more innovative delivery vehicles for improving access to financial services and market information in rural areas. As of June 2017, all seven participating credit unions were using external providers for automated telling machines (ATMs) and mobile banking channels to reach more members.