Way Cleared For Int'l Shared Branching Project

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NCUA last week cleared an international shared branching project that would connect immigrants from Ecuador and other Central American countries to credit unions in their home countries.

The project, being developed by the World Council of CUs, will enable immigrants or guest workers to bypass the expensive international remittance system by connecting them directly to their credit unions. Guy Messick, a Philadelphia attorney representing WOCCU, said if the pilot program is successful it could be expanded to other countries to give individuals inexpensive access to the international remittance system.

"This is also a way for credit unions to provide services to people of modest means, or all means," said Messick.

NCUA approval comes as Congress is debating whether to allow credit unions to provide remittance services to anyone, even non-members, within their fields of membership. Under the WOCCU plan, the shared branch will transmit the deposit or withdrawal to a U.S. corporate credit union, which will send it to credit union-owned Town North National Bank, which holds an account with Caja Central Cooperativa Financoop, the Ecuadorian corporate credit union. The Ecuadorian corporate will transmit the transaction to an account on the member's behalf to the Ecuadorian shared branch, which will transmit it on to the member's Ecuadorian credit union.

NCUA pointed out that funds accepted from non-members at Federal CUs for transmission to Ecuadorian CUs are not covered by NCUSIF.

The Journal's Ed Roberts can be contacted at eroberts cuournal.com.

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