Filipino co-ops discuss digital at their first national congress

Digitisation is needed to future-proof co-ops and open up new markets, says the NCBC

Co-operators in the Philippines discussed the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly digital world at the country’s first ever National Cooperative Business Congress (NCBC). 

In a dedicated session on Cooperatives for Digitalization, Ann Cuisia, founder of DigiCoop, a Filipino online service provider for co-ops, said current requirements of the traditional financial system are “rigid” and hamper the growth of the sector. Cuisia warned co-ops to “digitise or die”, adding that digital tools make to access finance and respond to government mandates towards modernisation.

DigiCoop, a key presenter at the NCBC, provides services that enable co-ops to transition to digital finance, including a mobile payment app and the country’s first QR-enabled teller machine – the Cooperation Network Teller Machine.

The inaugural NCBC brought 632 delegates to the Novaliches Development Cooperative (Novadeci) Convention Center, with anther 251 joining online, to discuss key areas of interest to Filipino co-ops, including health, transport, energy and finance. 

Research conducted by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) found that micro and small co-ops in the Philippines face barriers to digitalisation. In an online summary of the event’s session on digital, NCBC called for more support for smaller co-op to digitise, adding: “Digitalisation will not only open markets, open avenues, and open opportunities for co-operatives. It will also future-proof the organisation [and] assist in the mitigation of the limitations brought by the pandemic. 

“More than that, digitalisation and the technology – may it be social media, internet, or financial technology, can also promote mainstreaming cooperativism to the general public.”