Through its Proyecto de Asistencia T?cnica al Microfinanciamiento Rural (PATMIR) project, World Council of Credit Unions is using technology to expand credit union services in Mexico.
One participating credit union, Caja Yanga, is experiencing a 15% monthly growth rate thanks to the installation of high-powered computer servers and the use of handheld transaction devices like PDAs.
In anticipation of the launch of Caja Yanga's first ATMs last month, the credit union installed a new information technology infrastructure and moved its principal data center. In addition to bringing the credit union into compliance with federal regulations, the move drastically improved data transfer efficiency, providing the capacity to support projected growth.
The credit union also implemented a WOCCU outreach model in which field officers bring savings-focused financial services to members on foot or motorcycle and use PDAs to conduct transactions and transmit data. Last year, field officers performed 80,960 PDA-based financial transactions for remote members.
"Caja Yanga demonstrates the commitment not only to reach the very poor and marginalized of the economy but also the commitment to provide these people with the best quality and transparency of financial services through applications of technology," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president/chief operating officer.
Another credit union participating in WOCCU's PATMIR project, Caja Zongolica, opened two branches high in the mountains of south central Mexico Feb. 7 and 8. Branch said the credit union maps its field of membership territory according to population density, then decides whether to establish brick-and-mortar branches, reach out to members through PDAs or place point-of-sale technology with retail agents.
One of the new branches in the town of Atlahuilco expanded from a single-room office with one teller window to a full-size branch office with three teller windows, separate desks for credit officers, an indoor waiting area and an upstairs board room. "We were often confused with the government's municipal office because we had been located in the same building," said Tomasa Castro, the branch manager.