Latin American credit unions explore strategies for growth through technology

Nearly 200 credit union professionals from Latin America convened last week for a technical workshop in Cartagena, Colombia, to explore payment trends and innovative initiatives to engage more...

Nearly 200 credit union professionals from Latin America convened last week for a technical workshop in Cartagena, Colombia, to explore payment trends and innovative initiatives to engage more young members off and online.

The World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions, which promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.

With support from MasterCard, the World Council of Credit Unions and FECOLFIN — Colombia’s national trade association — organised the educational and networking sessions to cultivate strategies for growth through technology. Participants also learned how their efforts to expand financial inclusion play a role in the World Council’s global campaign, Vision 2020, to add 50 million new credit union members by 2020.

MasterCard emphasised a need for credit unions to develop and implement technology strategies. Part of those strategies means involving the right people with the right tools. Ted Iacobuzio, vice president of Global Insights for MasterCard, presented new economic inclusion research that suggested some individuals assume key roles as “Connectors” for inclusion.

“When our global community of 57,000 credit unions commits to a common vision — and global challenge — to serve more women, youth and rural poor, we show the world we have the power and passion to deliver financial freedom to the unbanked,” said Victor Corro, World Council vice president of member services.

“Connectors have access to the elements of inclusion, and can act as facilitators in helping the excluded move from the centre of their networks to the periphery,” Mr Iacobuzio said, adding that this research presented unique opportunities for credit unions to identify and equip key players to expand financial services to those who need it most.

Victor Corro, Woccu vice president of member services, shares Woccu's Vision 2020 in Colombia
Mr Corro shares Woccu’s Vision 2020

In addition, MasterCard called upon Latin American credit unions to establish stronger relationships with millennials. By better understanding this demographic’s characteristics, attitudes and behaviours, credit unions could improve their communication strategies and build greater confidence, loyalty and trust, which is crucial. However, MasterCard said credit unions must also provide the technology and service channels that young members demand.

To help credit unions and millennials better understand one another, Sarah Timmins, World Council corporate social media manager, and Daniel Ferretti, Sicredi chief marketing officer, explored digital strategies and new initiatives.

“Connecting with millennials doesn’t have to be so complicated. You can narrow it down to three main points,” said Ms Timmins, explaining strategies for moving from social silence to social engagement. “First, understand and speak to the values that drive them — happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery. Second, understand their realistic lifestyles and experiences and find ways to amplify their reality. And, finally, make sure they feel informed and involved, not just marketed to.”

Mr Ferretti shared the success of the SicrediTouch program — which features products designed to meet young adults’ needs in Brazil — to highlight the value of content integration and the potential for collaboration. By integrating a solid internet presence with content-based interaction through social media, blogs and storytelling, SicrediTouch has helped increase Sicredi’s young adult membership by 78%.

“The ability to tell your story and your value proposition through a consistent brand strategy is key to attracting the multi-device customers of today,” Mr Ferreti said. “Credit unions must focus on their core values in the development of member centric channels that are reliable and trustworthy.”

World Council holds its next technical workshop, sponsored by MasterCard, in Nairobi, Kenya, on 8-9 December. Learn more at


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