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Challenge 2025: Where Are We?

The COVID-19 crisis has established a new sense of urgency for the digital transformation of credit unions. Many credit unions tell us that digital transformation is their number one priority.

In support of Challenge 2025, the digitization of the global credit union system, World Council completed a survey of our national association members on the status of digital offerings in their country. 

The basic level of credit union digital transformation is to offer core services via digital online and mobile channels.

Previously, this was a matter of consumer convenience and competitiveness.  Consumers do their social networking, get their news, make payments and do their commerce now via online and mobile channels. It is only natural that they expect to do their finance via digital channels as well.

Online and Mobile Channels

From those member organizations who responded, we know that online banking channels are offered in:

  • 100% of credit unions in Brazil and Guatemala.
  • 84% in Poland.
  • 71% in the Dominican Republic
  • 70% in Kenya,
  • 30% in Estonia.
  • 10% in Cameroon.

Online loan processing and approval has proven to be a major membership growth onloading ramp for credit unions. Online loan processing is available via national associations in Brazil, Guatemala, Poland and Kenya.

Mobile phone transactions are integrated into the online banking channel for credit unions in Brazil, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Poland, Estonia, Nepal, Kenya and Cameroon.

When it comes to mobile banking channels, we they are offered in:

  • 100% of credit unions in Brazil and Guatemala.
  • 84% in Poland.
  • 70% in Kenya.
  • 35% in Dominican Republic.
  • 30% in Estonia.
  • 15% in Cameroon.,
  • 12% in Malawi.
  • 8% in Nepal.

Mobile deposit services are available in Brazil, Guatemala, Poland Estonia, Nepal, Kenya and Malawi, while mobile loan processing and approval is available in Brazil, Poland, Estonia and Kenya.


In the COVID-19 world, it is no longer a just matter of convenience but rather an urgent consumer imperative for safety

In the post COVID-19 arrival, the definition of “most friendly service” changes from the previous definition of personal treatment to digital ease. Consumers look for digital channels that are simple, easy to use, require fewer clicks (steps), and work consistently without errors and dead ends.

Basic digitization requires integration into the local payments ecosystem.

Digital channels alone and transactions within a closed loop credit union system are not sufficient. Consumers expect seamless connection of credit union transactions with their payments or commerce service providers. This is interoperability.

Digital transformation requires an institutional foundation of automated, digital back-office processing.

For many credit union systems made up of small credit unions, shared platforms provide a vehicle for small credit unions to access digital technology

Shared platforms allow credit unions to share the investment in back-office data processing systems, which otherwise require the same redundant investments in many stand-alone credit union software and hardware. Credit unions are also able to share the cost of technical human expertise to manage and maintain technology solutions. 

By collaborating in shared platforms, credit unions are also able to extend their points of service to offer greater geographic scale and physical convenience. They are able to leverage their scale for negotiation with vendors and strategic alliances.

Data Processing Systems

Most member countries are made up of small credit unions whose long-term sustainability and digital transformation requires a foundation of efficient data processing. The expense of digitization challenges individual or small credit union systems—but credit unions have the advantage of being able to pool their resources and cooperate in building shared platforms to provide consolidated back-office processing and payment channels. 

From those associations who responded, we know that:

  • Brazil (Sicredi), Guatemala (FENACOAC), Poland (NACSCU), Dominican Republic (AIRAC), Cameroon (CamCCUL), Kenya (KUSCCO), Malawi (MUSCCO), Nepal (NEFSCUN) and Estonia (EUCC) offer a common back-office data processing system for credit unions.
  • We also know that the Korea (NACUFOK), El Salvador (FEDECACES) and Philippines’ associations (NATCCO and PFCCO) offer common data processing platforms for credit unions.
  • Of these, affiliated credit union usage ranges from a high of 100% in Brazil and Guatemala to:
    • 99% in Cameroon.
    • 96% in Poland.
    • 83% in Dominican Republic.
    • 75% in Malawi.
    • 15% in Nepal
    • 14% in Estonia.
    • 2% in Kenya.

In most other countries, credit unions use stand-alone commercial data processing packages. 

Many countries are made up of small credit unions and can pool resources with other credit unions or associations to establish a shared payments platform to:

  • reduce redundant investment,
  • achieve investment scale,
  • leverage bargaining power with vendors,
  • extend networks, and
  • facilitate regulatory requirements.

The success of shared payments platforms requires scale and it requires access to the national electronic payments system.

Shared Payments Platforms

Associations that offer shared payments platforms that allow credit unions to provide online and mobile payment services include:

  • Brazil (Sicredi), Guatemala (FENACOAC), Poland (NACSCU), Dominican Republic (AIRAC), Cameroon (CamCCUL), Kenya (KUSCCO), Malawi (MUSCCO), Nepal (NEFSCUN) and Estonia (EUCC).

We also know that the Korea (NACUFOK) and the Philippines' associations (NATCCO and PFCCO) offer shared payments platforms for credit unions. Australia has one of the most advanced shared payment platforms in the New Payments Platform (NPP), owned by and serving both cooperative and commercial banks, as well as credit unions.

Credit union usage of these platforms shows more variability, from:100% in Brazil and Guatemala to: 

  • 84% in Poland,
  • 53% in the Dominican Republic,
  • 35% in Cameroon,
  • 30% in Estonia and
  • 13% in Malawi.

The shared platforms are linked to the national payments systems in Australia, Brazil, Estonia, Kenya and Malawi. We also know that the Philippines (NATCCO and PFCCO) is making gains in negotiating linkage of their shared payments platform to the national payments system.


Several countries have found it is not efficient or affordable to create their own digital systems, but choose rather to build shared platforms and establish strategic alliances to aggregate credit unions to connect to digital systems and their country’s digital ecosystem. 

The success of shared payments platforms requires both scale and access to the national electronic payments system.

Digital transformation opens new portals to credit union systems and therefore higher levels of cyber risk. Regulatory requirements and the costs associated with risk management increase. Shared platforms also assist in sharing the cost and mitigating the risk of cyber security.

With digital transformation comes increased risk to consumer data protection and cybersecurity, placing greater responsibility on credit unions for the protection of their members

With transformation comes higher levels of responsibility and liability in providing protection to the members and the credit union. Collaboration of credit unions in shared platforms provide some countries with cost efficiencies and access to higher levels of technology in cyber protection, risk management and regulatory compliance.

Higher levels of digital transformation take advantage of data analysis to build credit unions’ trusted relationships with their members

Data analysis of member’s choices provides feedback for product design and service response. Whereas other commercial institutions use data analysis to sell more products to consumers, credit unions can use data analysis to provide members with options that are better for their members’ own economic benefit. It also provides credit unions with the opportunity to provide pro-active financial counseling to their members.

We will continue to update you as more of our member associations and credit unions share their experiences with digital transformation in the future.



Credit Unions at the Collision of Two Global Crises

Credit Unions at the Collision of Two Global Crises

2019 was a year of global refugee crisis: 70 million people displaced from their homes and spilling into neighboring countries. Credit unions were called upon by their communities to help settle and provide a future for them. 2020 is the year of the global COVID-19 crisis. Again, credit unions step up to support their members’ and their communities’ ability to survive the economic impact of the crisis.

What is the international credit union movement facing?

What is the international credit union movement facing?

We have endeavored to stay in communication with credit unions around the world over the last month. Technology today allows us faster and more complete information exchange than during previous crises. We are looking at three waves: Coronavirus Health Crisis, Credit Union Institutional Stress and Global Recession. 

International Credit Union Update on Coronavirus Impact

International Credit Union Update on Coronavirus Impact

While on one hand, it strikes me that social distancing is lonely work, on the other hand, I have also been struck with the sense of community of our international network.

As Venezuela Collapses; Helping Latin American Credit Unions Integrate Immigrants and Refugees into Local Economies

As Venezuela Collapses; Helping Latin American Credit Unions Integrate Immigrants and Refugees into Local Economies

Many of the geopolitical challenges that we see in the news have their roots and their impact at the community level. Credit unions everywhere are community-based organizations. Communities turn to their credit unions to mitigate these challenges — and those credit unions often turn to us to support their capacity to do so.

Setting the Framework for Global Digitization in Kuala Lumpur

Setting the Framework for Global Digitization in Kuala Lumpur

The global credit union system reached the Vision 2020 target of 260 million members at the end of 2017, three years early. Yet not all credit unions or country systems grew equally. Those credit unions that offered their members robust online and mobile channels grew, while those that did not showed stagnant growth. Smaller country systems that used shared payment platforms showed growth, while others without digital channels lost market share and displayed little growth. The next challenge is not a new number for membership growth, but instead, addressing the channels for feeding membership growth for the future.

Credit Union Resilience Disaster Response Engagement in Puerto Rico

Credit Union Resilience Disaster Response Engagement in Puerto Rico

In August, we flew back in to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with our colleagues from California, North Carolina, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas and Colorado to share the lessons learned from credit union responses to disasters around the country. 

Study and Service in Puerto Rico: Launching "Operation Stormbreak"

Study and Service in Puerto Rico: Launching "Operation Stormbreak"

We will return to Puerto Rico August 1-6, after the World Credit Union Conference (WCUC) July 28-31 in The Bahamas. During WCUC, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions will launch “Operation Stormbreak” — the establishment of a forward-prepared fund to respond immediately when a natural disaster happens.

Rebuilding Shattered Lives in Kurdistan

Rebuilding Shattered Lives in Kurdistan

We traveled to Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, at the request of former military personnel, to explore a credit union approach for serving refugees. Can credit unions help refugees in the camps find a way to build assets, re-engage in a productive economy, and move from relief dependency to self-sufficiency?

Keeping Families Together: Guatemalan Credit Unions Launch Young Entrepreneurs Fund

Keeping Families Together: Guatemalan Credit Unions Launch Young Entrepreneurs Fund

Guatemala has one of the highest numbers of small business startups in Central America. Yet only one in seven startups survive the first year of operation. Young entrepreneurs are high risk credit subjects and therefore credit unions have been reluctant to finance them.

2018: End of Year Report

2018: End of Year Report

Supporter contributions fund the credit union development programs in the field that the World Council and the Worldwide Foundation carry out. We look at what challenges we have faced, what we have accomplished and what is still underway at year-end 2018. 

Caribbean Hurricane Relief: Dominica Credit Union Rebuilding

Caribbean Hurricane Relief: Dominica Credit Union Rebuilding

Hurricane Maria in 2017 damaged 18,000 of the island’s 23,000 buildings. The island has six credit unions on the island serving 97% of the population. 

Field Engagements Planned for 2019

Field Engagements Planned for 2019

"Engagement trips are like traveling in a time machine. Sometimes you go to the future. Sometimes you visit the past.” - courtesy of one of the Worldwide Foundation’s engagement participants.

Progress at Busia

Progress at Busia

Worldwide Foundation continues to support the Busia orphanage with food and school fees. In 2018, after young girls at the orphanage had been harassed by men who tried to break into their dormitory, Worldwide Foundation called for donations to build a protective wall around the orphanage.

Rebuilding for Puerto Rico: Loan Participation Workshop

Rebuilding for Puerto Rico: Loan Participation Workshop

On the island of Puerto Rico there are 115 state-chartered credit unions (CUs) with 1 million members and $8.1 billion in assets. There are 9 federal chartered credit unions with 85 thousand members and $800 million in assets.

A Deep Dive in Asia

A Deep Dive in Asia

We depend on financial support of credit unions for the work we do. We also depend on the commitment of personal time and voluntary effort of credit union people to make a difference in the lives of many around the world.

Puerto Rico: Preparing for the Next Hurricane Season

Puerto Rico: Preparing for the Next Hurricane Season

In Puerto Rico there are 115 state-chartered credit unions with one-million members and $8.1 billion in assets. There are nine federal-chartered credit unions with 85,000 members and $800 million in assets.

Economic Democracy

Economic Democracy

We remember that when Poland achieved political democracy, the leadership of the Solidarity trade union movement sent its young leaders abroad to study credit unions and pursue economic democracy as well.

At the Bottom of the Pyramid

At the Bottom of the Pyramid

In March, we returned to Busia Kenya, to the orphanage that credit unions built. We did basic service work, painting and repairing facilities, planting banana trees, mixing cement and laying tiles. We cooked and entertained the children. Why an orphanage?

Supporting Credit Unions & Orphans in Kenya

Supporting Credit Unions & Orphans in Kenya

There are 6,400 credit unions in Kenya, called SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperatives) serving 6.2 million members.

Developing Business Lending in Guatemala

Developing Business Lending in Guatemala

Communities in Guatemala have seen the departure of their youth. “We have no future here: no jobs, no money”, Josué, 12 years old, from San Pedro told us. So, the communities turn to their credit unions for a solution.

Credit Union Relief Knows No Borders

Credit Union Relief Knows No Borders

One of the privileges that we enjoy working in the credit union movement is to be part of a global community which reaches out in times of disaster to help each other regardless of borders.

A Deep Dive in Ukraine

A Deep Dive in Ukraine

We flew into Kiev from Vienna. Others came from the US, Poland and Kenya. After three years of war, our Ukrainian colleagues were relieved to receive outside visitors. 

Colombia: From War to Peace

Colombia: From War to Peace

The conflict in Colombia ran for 50 years. It took place between the military, para military, rebels, guerrillas, narco-traffickers and crime syndicates. 

Recovery in Haiti

Recovery in Haiti

We remember the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that destroyed much of Port au Prince, including credit unions. Credit unions provided some of the very first relief in their local communities. Credit unions in the Dominican Republic established a supply line of water and food to credit unions in Haiti.