Georgia credit unions and Georgia Credit Union Affiliates recently hosted credit unions from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay for a “global classroom” learning initiative.
The three-day event in May was coordinated through the World Council of Credit Unions, which reached out to Georgia for a study tour in the Atlanta area to explore how credit unions there use technology, partnerships, core systems, CUSOs and products to provide their members the services they need for now and in the future. The Latin American visitors met with the BOND Community Federal Credit Union and GCUA on May 7, visited GEMC Federal Credit Union and Georgia’s Own Credit Union on May 8 and stopped by Atlanta Postal Credit Union and
Delta Community Credit Union on May 9.
“The delegation was very impressed with the level of technological sophistication they witnessed in service channels offered by credit unions in the U.S.,” said Thomas Belekvich of WOCCU. “They were struck by the extent to which credit unions in the U.S. have worked to remove friction from processes to make the member experience as smooth and efficient as possible. They admired the extent to which credit unions collaborate through formal initiatives like shared branching and other CUSO services, as well as informally by sharing experiences within the sector. There was significant discussion of the opportunities that exist for small credit unions in Latin America to improve sustainability through similar collaborative efforts.”
The Georgia credit unions were likewise impressed with their visitors.
“It’s nice to be able to share with others what you’re doing that can potentially help and inspire them when they go back to their homes, but it’s also a treat to be able to get some insight into how other credit unions — other countries, really — are getting things done, what their citizens need and how credit unions are filling those needs,” said Denise Swan, president/CEO of GEMC FCU.
Belekevich said the exchange exemplifies one of the great qualities that sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions — credit unions’ willingness to share experiences, learn together and collaborate.
“I believe that this collaborative spirit represents an invaluable resource for addressing the shared challenges facing the industry today,” Belekvich said. “World Council’s role as a bridge between financial cooperatives around the world is helping to connect leading organizations with their global colleagues seeking new ideas for improving financial services in their communities.”
The Georgia credit union system has developed a reputation for fostering international relationships. The Georgia-Polish partnership has been in place for many years, and, over the past two years, a program connecting connecting Georgia credit unions with British counterparts has thrived.
“GCUA was delighted to host this international delegation to help grow the cooperative system around the world, and it speaks volumes about the entire credit union industry in this state that they chose Georgia,” said Brandee Bickle, GCUA’s liaison for the event. “All of these interactions provided an ideal and unique window into credit union operations, with a comprehensive understanding of technological tools, resources and partnerships credit unions utilize in this state.”