DigitalizationStrategies and Approaches of the Apex Financial Cooperatives: Asian Experiences

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Financial cooperatives are important players in the world banking system, which reach the poorest people and have a substantial economic impact. They serve over 900 million people worldwide through the 500,000 cooperatives (including credit unions) working in more than 100 countries worldwide. Until the start of the millennium, the cooperatives in developing countries supported their members through their brick-and-mortar branch networks, making the transactions extremely expensive. This led many of the cooperatives in these countries to change their business approach and incorporate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into their system to reach out to the members, reducing transaction costs. They started using ICT-based delivery tools and mechanisms. These tools include; (a) Model marketing contracts, (b) Good business practice manual/tool, (c) Training materials for developing market linkages, (d) product market assessments, existing and potential linkage review tools, (e) Check-list for selecting local agricultural technical assistance firms, costing of services and payment options, service contract models/templates, (f) Guidelines for specific agricultural product options (i.e., variable lines of credit, input supplier advance credit, factoring, solidarity/group loans, warehouse receipts, etc.).

The Apex financial cooperatives are a relatively common type of financial entity in many countries of the Asia-Pacific region. As community-based, grass-roots entities, they have a strong presence in remote rural and marginal urban areas, so they generally serve low- and middle-income segments of the population that receive little financial services from commercial banks. They also offer financial education and support for a savings-oriented culture in these communities and are among the main financial services providers to poor or low-income people. The digitization of these financial cooperatives, a fundamental component of the financial sector in the Asia-Pacific region, is accelerating. There are numerous examples of progress from Iran to India to the Philippines to the Fiji Islands. Commercial banks in the region have already invested in digitization to optimize resources and improve profitability. The Apex financial cooperatives are also facing a similar challenge, although one that is more complex since the future of financial inclusion in the region depends on its solution.

Keeping the above in view, the proposed webinar will address the issues, challenges, innovations, and country policies in adapting digitization for the financial cooperatives at the apex level and how it impacted the service delivery of these institutions. The speakers will also be discussing the issues related to matching policies

1. Opening Remarks:
• Mr Jun He, Policy Officer, Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment Team, Representative from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on behalf of the CABFIN partnership

2. Speakers of the Webinar
• Mr Konduru Ravinder Rao, Chairman, National Federation of State Cooperative Banks (NAFSCOB). “Journey of Indian Financial Cooperatives to Digital era”
• USec Joseph “JOY” Ballota Encabo, Chairman, Cooperative Development Authority, Philippines. “State of digitization and innovations of financial cooperatives in the Philippines”
• Mr Badri Kumar Guragain, Chief Executive Officer, National Cooperative Bank Limited (NCBL), Nepal. “Digitalization approach of apex financial cooperatives: Nepal experiences

3. Moderator of the Webinar:
• Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary General, APRACA, Bangkok, Thailand

Please contact info@rfilc for the webinar credentials.