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Iowa CUs serve the underserved via remittances outreach
MADISON, Wis. (5/10/10)--Three Iowa credit unions that acted as money transfer agents for Hispanics through the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Remittances Network (IRnet) recently documented their guidelines and recommendations in a report, “Reaching the Hispanic Market through Remittances.”
Click to view larger image Greater Iowa CU hired bilingual staff to better serve the Hispanic community. From left, teller Kristie Hollingsworth helps Jose A. Ayala send money home. (Photo provided by Michael Adams and the World Council of Credit Unions)
The institutions developed their Hispanic outreach strategies through WOCCU’s Credit Union Remittances Outreach Program (CUROP). The credit unions--Family CU, Davenport; Greater Iowa CU, Ames; and Village CU, Des Moines--were selected by WOCCU, the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL), and Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of the league. Initial results indicate that two of the three CUROP credit unions had higher volumes of remittance transactions during the program’s first year than a sample average of 21 other credit unions offering remittances through IRnet. The credit unions also benefited by cross-selling products and services to remittance senders. “By actively engaging with the Hispanic community, CUROP credit unions learned how to best tailor their services, and the community gained access to a host of financial services beyond remittances,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and CEO. “With ICUL and Coopera’s expertise, these credit unions became shining examples of what is possible with dedication, planning, marketing and follow-through.” With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, WOCCU designed CUROP to develop and implement a community outreach plan for membership extension and expansion to remittance-sending, underserved populations. The one-year program ended in March. WOCCU created IRnet in 2000. It is now working with the Texas Credit Union League to pilot an alternative remittance program that will expand the number of remittance providers for credit unions and foster competition to lower prices among firms and to benefit members. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has encouraged Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) to exempt credit unions or transactions routed through remittance programs administered by major central banks in the proposed regulatory reform bill. The definition of remittances in the recently introduced Senate financial regulatory reform package is “overly broad” and “would essentially make it impossible for credit unions to continue to offer any form of international electronic fund transfer services to their members,” CUNA and WOCCU said in a March 25 letter to Dodd. The language will affect any form of international electronic fund transfer services credit unions offer their members, whether or not those transactions are truly "remittances" sent by an immigrant home to his or her family, CUNA added.
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