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League WOCCU look to link GuatemalaU.S. remittances
ANTIGUA, Guatemala (2/17/11)--Guatemala’s credit unions would like to have a single shared branching system that could receive remittance funds transferred from credit unions in the U.S. Representatives from credit unions and organizations in California and Nevada are helping examine such a program’s feasibility under the auspices of World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program.
Click to view larger image Participants in the recent World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program visit to Guatemala included (kneeling, from left) Steve Schaefer, WOCCU technical services manager, and Nathan Rogers, Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC) vice president of marketing; (standing, from left) Oswaldo Oliva, CEO of Guatemala credit union trade association (FENACOAC); Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships senior manager; FSCC Board Chair Steven Stapp, CEO of San Francisco FCU; Amanda Smith, FSCC vice president of innovation; Gerardo Morales, FENACOAC finance manager; Carlos Flores, FENACOAC marketing coordinator; and Deeynar Leon, FENACOAC technology manager. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Representatives from WOCCU, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC), a WOCCU associate member organization, met in Guatemala last week to consider ways in which the country’s existing national shared branching system could link with a similar system in the U.S. The leagues have partnered with WOCCU member Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito (FENACOAC), Guatemala’s credit union trade association, as part of the International Partnerships Program since 2009. Each group participated in discussions about the possible link and other key topics, during the visit. “Such a link would provide ease, convenience and greater economy for Guatemalan workers in the U.S. who want to send money to relatives back home,” said Oswaldo Oliva, CEO of FENACOAC. “With a direct link between U.S. credit unions and Guatemala’s shared branching system, FENACOAC hopes to change the perception of credit unions as the ‘poor man’s bank’ to that of institutions that provide modern services and a safe and sound system that addresses many financial needs.” FENACOAC represents 27 credit unions that hold more than 80% of assets and serve one million members. The association has used the system-wide Mi Coope (“My Credit Union”) brand to differentiate financial cooperatives from other types of Guatemalan cooperatives. All FENACOAC credit unions share the same core operating system and participate in a national shared branching network. FENACOAC estimates that roughly 1.2 million Guatemalans have emigrated north for work, with California as the key destination. Every year, $3.7 billion is sent home to Guatemala from the U.S. In addition to FENACOAC’s Oliva, participants in the three-day planning meeting included FSCC Chair Steven Stapp, CEO of San Francisco (Calif.) FCU; FSCC’s Nathan Rodgers, vice president of marketing, and Amanda Smith, vice president of innovation; and WOCCU’s Victor Miguel Corro, senior manager of partnerships and training, and Steve Schaefer, technical services manager. The group also traveled to Antigua and Guatemala City and visited three credit unions. The meeting was capped by the development of a work plan. It is expected that the project will start in 2012 with an international shared branching link between Guatemala and the U.S. “In visiting the branch locations, I got a real sense of how important the credit unions are to the community and in helping the members improve their lives,” Stapp said. “I have a renewed sense of responsibility in helping Guatemala’s credit unions support their members.”
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