COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kurt Lykins has been in the credit unionindustry for 13 years, but he's never been so touched by the peoplehelping people philosophy than he was with the corporate'sinvolvement in helping Bolivia credit unions develop a sharedbranching system. Corporate One, along with the Ohio Credit UnionLeague, signed an agreement with World Council of Credit Unionsthree years ago to help Bolivia's credit union system. The $2.2million project is aimed at helping credit unions open branches inremote locations and forming a shared branch network. Another goalwas to develop a second tier cooperative to provide economies ofscale to Bolivia credit unions. That second tier would be similarto the second tier role corporates play in America's three-tiersystem. “In Bolivia it's very much a cash-based society. It's alsovery much a distributed family type environment. Males go intolarger cities to work. Women and family stay in the smaller towns.Periodically they will take all the cash they earned and travelback to their home in order to deliver money back to theirfamilies. It's a high-risk situation,” said Lykins, Corporate One'svice president and chief technology officer. Bolivia's creditunions are mainly located in less populated areas outside of themajor cities. Bolivia's three main cities have a bank presence, butno credit unions. Corporate One wanted to help connect all of thecredit unions so Bolivians don't have to travel miles and mileswith cash to their credit union location. On a trip to the Amazonregion, Lykins met with a credit union member who explained howthere is nothing for her to spend her money on in her own village.She has to wait until a boat comes down the Amazon with goods forher to buy. She belongs to the credit union solely as a place tokeep her cash. Lykins said he was moved by the simplicity of theirlives and quickly saw the need for them to have more access pointsto credit union services so they don't have the added risk oftraveling long distances with cash. “It really touched my heart towork with a developing country and see that it's not bank versuscredit union. Credit unions are really only there to support thefamilies that belong to them. It gave me a lot of additionalinterest in working with these types of situations that have asocial element,” said Lykins. Corporate One went to work ondeveloping a low-cost, Web-based shared branching software packageto allow credit unions to talk to each other. Corporate One was agood source for this expertise given its own network efforts,including as facilitator of its AllianceOne surcharge-free ATMnetwork. The corporate developed ServiRed, which translates as“service network.” It is a simple shared branch system similar toan off-line ATM program in the Untied States. It is housed in arapidly developing corporate credit union in Cochabamba. “Anycredit union part of shared branching can authenticate the owner ofthat account and facilitate the exchange of money from thoseaccounts,” said Lykins. The amazing thing, said Lykins, is thewhole project only took Corporate One about 270 hours over athree-year period. Those 270 hours helped change the infrastructureof the country. Now 17 credit unions with 40 locations and 220,000members are connected. Lykins hopes to see that expand to 100locations and 500,000 members by year-end. With a total populationof 8.8 million, ServiRed would be connecting approximately 6% ofthe population. Now that the credit unions have a centralizedlocation for information, it opens up the door to new offerings.Already, WOCCU has used ServiRed to being offering internationalremittances through IrNet. “We believe that this software systemhas the capacity and flexibility to serve as the solution for manyof the technical applications we're working to address in otherprojects around the globe – including international remittances,debit/credit card networks, and ATM processing,” said Pete Crear,CEO of WOCCU. “In terms of its potential, it may be one of the mostvaluable contributions we've received from a partner in years,” headded WOCCU is considering using ServiRed in Kenya, Ecuador andBarbados. “When we designed the software, we designed a languageengine. The prompts can be changed, so it's not just for Spanishspeaking people. It can be changed into whatever language theywant,” said Lykins. [email protected]

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