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Corporates advise Colombian CUs on settlement ops
MADISON, Wis. (9/19/08)--Members of the newly formed World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Corporate Advisory Group traveled to Colombia last week to assess the credit union movement and current settlement systems there. The visit marked the group's first international exchange since it was established in March.
Click to view larger image Members of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Corporate Advisory Group--from left, Steve Schaefer, WOCCU program manager John Elden, Corporate One assistant vice president, systems operations; and Nick Gomez, director, product management--met with SumaRed General Manager Juan Jose Camargo in Bogota, Colombia.
Click to view larger image Hugo Fernando Gomez, left, CoopCentral director of technology in Columbia explains the corporate credit union's settlement system to WesCorp's Nick Gomez. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Seven U.S. corporate credit unions, under the direction of the Association of Corporate Credit Unions (ACCU) Executive Committee, joined WOCCU representatives earlier this year to establish an advisory group for foreign WOCCU Services Group (WSG) offices. The WSG offices are a new model of credit union service organizations. The corporate group assists with providing technical, operational, legal and regulatory expertise to credit unions. WSG offices currently exist in Bolivia, Colombia, Kenya, Mexico and Peru. SumaRed, Colombia's WSG office, offers consulting services and national money transfers to member credit unions. Its money transfer network uses a Web-based system that transfers remittance information among credit unions, but because SumaRed is not a financial institution, it must manually move funds through credit union accounts at a local bank. Though the data exchange process works well, the transfer of funds is not as efficient as it could be, said WOCCU. The delegation to Colombia visited SumaRed, key credit unions in three cities, the corporate credit union and two of the country's credit union regulators to assess the settlement system and provide formal recommendations for automating the process. WOCCU Corporate Advisory Group members on the trip were Nick Gomez, WesCorp director, product management payment systems, San Dimas, Calif.; John Elden, Corporate One assistant vice president, systems operations, Columbus, Ohio; and Steve Schaefer, WOCCU program manager. The trip was especially meaningful for Gomez, who came to the U.S. from Colombia when he was 18 years old. “This was an extraordinary experience for me,” Gomez said. “I left Colombia right out of high school, and even though I have been back a few times through the years, this trip gave me an opportunity to connect with the credit union movement in Colombia for the first time thanks to the initiative from the WOCCU Corporate Advisory Group. “Credit unions are a very dynamic and critical part of the economy there with great commitment from the government to their health and prosperity,” Gomez added. “There is a great opportunity to have an impact affecting the health of credit unions and millions of people there.” Juan Jose Camargo, SumaRed general manager, said the group hopes “the Corporate Network sees the importance of SumaRed to the credit unions of Colombia. The exchange of technical knowledge and perspectives on what services a corporate-type institution in Colombia can offer will truly allow us to position SumaRed as a fundamental source of support for credit unions now and into the future.” Brad Miller, ACCU executive director, highlighted the collaboration between the ACCU and WOCCU as a way to leverage the Corporate Network's operational and technical expertise and help strengthen the global cooperative financial system. “This first combined effort to evaluate, design and implement a settlement system for credit unions in Colombia is an important step in improving operating methods,” Miller said. “Creating an efficient transaction processing system [in Colombia] could potentially be replicated with credit unions around the globe.” U.S. corporate credit unions involved with the WOCCU Corporate Advisory Group are: Corporate One, Columbus, Ohio; First Carolina Corporate CU, Greensboro, N.C.; Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, Pa.; Southwest Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas; TriCorp FCU, Portland, Maine; U.S. Central, Lenexa, Kan.; and WesCorp, San Dimas, Calif.
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