ATLANTA – Credit Union Service Corporation, one of the three nationwide shared branching networks in the U.S. has entered into an alliance with the World Council of Credit Unions to introduce international shared branching for the very first time. Credit unions in the South American nation of Ecuador would be the first organized under the pilot shared branching services project, according to the two credit union groups. The effort will first be limited to between 10 to 20 Ecuadorian credit unions which had already been working with WOCCU. These credit unions will help develop procedural standards which could be used to ensure future success of the program in other countries. The effort will focus on converting the paper-based shared branching system currently used in the region to an automatic network that will provide them with a safe and secure connection to the United States. This means that eventually an Ecuadorian credit union member traveling or living in the U.S. would be able to access their account in Ecuador from the U.S in order to make deposits or withdrawals or other financial services, explained Craig Beach, vice president of marketing for CUSC. Beach explained that Ecuador was chosen because Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency and both organizations believed it would be easier not to have to handle currency exchange in the initial projects. “The ability to share branches across borders is the next step in the process of internationalization of credit union services,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU vice president and chief operating officer for WOCCU. “World Council’s credit union building programs around the world have taken the first step to bring credit unions from many different environments to the same level of financial discipline and policy in order to establish international mutualization.” Branch continued, “World Council chose the alliance with CUSC because of their next generation network, which makes development efforts more cost effective.” However, although both organizations were enthusiastic about the project, executives with both made it clear that they didn’t foresee spending much or any of their own money on it. Carroll Beach, CEO of CUSC explained that CUSC considered itself to be assisting in a technical capacity in a project that had its origins in WOCCU. That assistance, Beach said, would mean CUSC would contribute knowledge and human resources to the project, but no capital. Kimberly Johnston, spokeswoman for WOCCU, said that WOCCU planned to spending money on travel in the project but that other resources would come from U.S. government grants already set in place for the effort. Both Beach and Johnston agreed as well that there would likely be details of the project such as ensuring transactions met with overseas security rules and how much the international transactions would eventually cost, as well as how credit unions might be paid, that would still need to be worked out. “There are a lot of details still, but there is a strong demand across Central and South America, particularly from Mexico, shared branching so we believe this is only the first step,” Johnston said. -

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