To help establish a sustainable credit union framework for its citizens, the Falkland Islands Development Corp. received assistance from Local Government Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C, and the World Council of Credit Unions.
Dwayne Naylor, chief operating officer of the $1.3 billion credit union, traveled to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic on April 14-19, according to the World Council.
While there, Naylor reviewed the necessary legislative framework and explained the credit union model to interested citizens and local authorities.
He also assessed local infrastructure, information systems and professional staff capacity and requirements to provide savings, consumer lending, transaction services, remittances, international transfer services and business lending.
"The Falklands' economy is changing rapidly," Naylor said. "Increased access to a credit union will be in the community's interest to grow."
Despite keen local interest, the World Council said, the Falkland Islands' small population remains a challenge to credit union sustainability. With just 2,300 working-age islanders, Naylor and FIDC staff considered whether a credit union could be sustainable without possibility to achieve scale.
One bank branch currently operates on the Falkland Islands, yet residents find it difficult to access credit, according to the Madison, Wis.-based World Council.
The government established the FIDC to provide financing to island businesses that have been refused bank financing. In addition to accessing financial services, islanders wanted to share ownership of a "bank" with the same voting rights as any other shareholder, the council said.
Having heard positive things about North American credit unions, the Falkland Islands’ government requested World Council assistance to introduce credit unions to its citizens.
Naylor, the council and the FIDC continue to review alternative information communication technology strategies for cloud-based back-office processing and mobile services on the island.
"We knew this would be a challenge from the start when the (FIDC) approached us but we remain optimistic that in today's world, credit unions can provide an empowering solution for this community as well,” said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO.