WASHINGTON -- The World Council of Credit Unions participated in a U.S. Treasury-led effort to maximize access to financial services for citizens of emerging Latin American countries.
"Financial Inclusion in the Americas", convened by U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, brought together approximately 80 financial professionals and government officials from the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Dave Grace, WOCCU's vice president of association services, spoke on behalf of the group, saying financial cooperatives can help achieve that goal, but they must have access to payment systems and remain tax-free.
"In our experience, credit union systems grow and provide greater outreach when they are able to offer necessary products and services," Grace said. "But, the credit unions in the participating countries require unfettered access to payment systems, credit bureaus and card service providers and networks in order to do that."
Credit unions in the represented Latin American countries are engaged in a struggle similar to the share draft battle U.S. credit unions fought in the 1970s, Grace said, but the U.S. Treasury Dept. has come out strongly in favor of increased credit union access.
Following the workshop, the U.S. Treasury Dept. committed to provide technical assistance to the four participating countries. WOCCU will work with the agency to assure that credit unions remain viable alternatives to serving various populations, Grace said.