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CU System
WOCCUs Crear notes five global trends in interview
MADISON, Wis. and SAN DIEGO (4/1/11)--World Council of Credit Unions President and CEO Peter Crear recently discussed five emerging trends that will affect the global credit union movement with Mike Lawson of CU Broadcast, an online interview show. The five “mega-trends” were identified at the recent World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) G-10 meeting (News Now March 11). Here is Crear’s perspective on each of the five trends:
* A greater need for urbanization: Crear tied this trend directly to better serving the younger generation throughout the world. As people migrate to cities—the United Nations predicts that with 40 years 92% of the world’s population will occupy urban areas. That migration will be fueled by the younger generation. “What we’re after is to get better representation with younger people … and secondly, pushing that string uphill a little bit, getting better established in areas where don’t traditionally have the strongest relationships, and that’s in urban areas.” * An increasing microfinance malaise: Microlenders have lately earned a “black eye” in some developing countries, with commercial firms reaping profits on the impoverished, Crear said. For better or worse, in many parts of the world, credit unions are painted within the broad brush strokes of micro lenders. “Therein lies a problem for us,” Crear said. “We have to separate ourselves and continue to help people of modest means because that’s where our future lies.” Crear cited the need for better metrics and standards of behavior within the micro-lending sector. *An uptick in transactional mobility: Again, Crear tied mobile communication to the younger generation. “If you’ve got the younger generation in credit unions, you’ve got to go mobile,” Crear said. “We’ve got to attract young people and get mobile at the same time, because that’s the wave of the future.” But for WOCCU and the global credit union movement, going mobile is sometimes simply the most effective way to serve members that live in outlying areas. Crear called the cell phone “a credit union in your hand.” * A push for membership growth: Again, credit unions must get better at attracting young people, but not just as members, he said. The average attendee at WOCCU events is probably late middle age. “I love our volunteers, but that tells you we’re missing that younger element we need to bridge to the future with,” Crear said. * Fostering the middle class. For the first time, about half the world is in the middle class, Crear said. That’s the good news. Most of the rest of the world lives on about $2 a day. The challenge for credit unions is meeting the needs of both groups. “We have to do what we’ve always done: Help those that are living on two bucks a day,” Crear said. “We also have to continue to help those in the middle class. We were a big component of their reaching the middle class.”


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