The Minnesota Credit Union Network in St. Paul recently hosted a credit union delegation from Paraguay that wanted to gain insights from credit union operations, as well as the state and federal regulatory system as that nation begins to reform its cooperative laws.
The delegation included representatives from the Central de Cooperativas del Area Nacional Ltda., Paraguay’s credit union association.
In a meeting at the MnCUN office, the delegation spoke with Minnesota Department of Commerce Credit Union Chief Examiner Carl Schwartz and NCUA Regional Examiner Justin Burleson.
The Paraguayans asked regulators questions about the exam process, how they identify and resolve problems, the CAMEL credit union rating system, and how the U.S. regulatory system is structured and supported.
“In Paraguay the regulatory structure is different. The largest credit unions receive most of the regulatory oversight; most of the funding from the government goes to regulate them. The small credit unions receive less oversight,” said Enrique Ojeda, a CENCOPAN board member and board chair of COFAN, a $20 million credit union that serves a police department.
Other challenges delegation members mentioned included a lack of a deposit insurance fund for credit unions in Paraguay, the faster pace of growth for credit unions in the country compared to its regulatory system, and the lack of full monetary support from the federal government to regulators.
The Paraguay representatives also visited several credit unions, including $867 million Hiway FCU in St. Paul, $116 million St. Paul FCU in St. Paul, $236 million SouthPoint FCU in New Ulm, and $888 million US Federal in Burnsville.
The credit unions presented information about their technology developments and the movement to mobile products, operational efficiencies, collections practices and regulation management.
This international visit was part of an ongoing exchange between CENCOPAN and MnCUN that was established in 2004 through the World Council of Credit Unions.
“We want to ensure that this partnership continues to be beneficial to CENCOPAN and Paraguayan credit unions, as well as to MnCUN and the credit unions we represent,” said MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins. “I look forward to future exchanges in which we are able to coordinate focused visits to dig deeper into topics and help Paraguay’s credit unions make headway in specific areas. Our goal is to structure our time together to be as beneficial as possible.”