The 14 credit unions formed the organization Circuito Cooperativo Inc. in order to unify their marketing and service options on the island, including offering shared branching.
According to Katherine De La Cruz, president of the board of directors of Circuito Cooperativo, she along with other credit union officials in Puerto Rico have been anticipating the launch of shared-branching services.
"Our relationship with FSCC is exciting as together we have been working hard to bring shared branching to Puerto Rico. I am very proud to launch these services and reap the benefits that FSCC's shared-branching services will provide to Puerto Rican credit unions in the network. With so many advantages, shared branching is a significant tool for us to continue to grow our membership as well as services to meet our members' needs."
The 14 credit unions will add 36 branches for members to access in Puerto Rico. They will join Baxter Credit Union of Vernon Hills, Ill., which has a branch already operating as an outlet in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
"The participation in Puerto Rico is a demonstration of cooperation and trust. This is significant as we think back on the celebration of International Credit Union Day on Oct. 15. We are not only working cooperatively to provide access to credit union members but also this signifies the credit unions' support for the credit union movement, for each other and most importantly for their members," added Sarah Canepa Bang, CEO of FSCC.
She said the shared-branching network had been working for months with the credit unions and their processor on the island to set up the needed technical and communications links to allow shared branching and that, at one point, she and most of her staff on the project were using a software package to learn or improve their Spanish for the effort.
"Of course my Spanish is really nonexistent, so I was only an observer at some of these meetings we held," said Bang. "Which is alright by me since we had a number of staff who either already had Spanish or just needed to refresh it."
Bang said she was especially moved, given the small size of the island, to see how hard the credit unions worked in cooperation to build shared branching. She said the islands 36 credit union branches and 320,000 members would be well-served by the additional convenience shared branching provides.