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Moving forward: SEDPI pushes for financial inclusion with successful studies on PH credit unions and cooperatives in 2019

The year 2019 had been an important year for SEDPI’s advocacy on promoting and expanding financial inclusion among poor populations across different regions and provinces in the Philippines. 

In 2019, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions awarded Social Enterprises Development Partnerships Inc. (SEDPI) a contract to conduct studies with credit unions and cooperatives in the country. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the social impact affiliate of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to design open-loop, low-cost, real time payment platforms for its global network of CUs. The goal of the project is to reach and serve the existing 248 million CU members and to extend the CUs’ reach to unbanked populations worldwide.

SEDPI successfully conducted a demand-side research with credit union members of selected credit unions (CUs) and credit cooperatives in the Philippines.Following this, SEDPI conducted another research to measure the ‘cost to serve’ and ‘cost to use’ of credit unions (CUs) and cooperatives in the country within the framework of interoperability of payment systems.

Study on Digital Finance Services (DFS) 

With this study, SEDPI aimed to contribute to the landscaping of the digital finance services (DFS) and payments ecosystem in the Philippines, the purpose of which is to map the DFS / payments landscape and position the CUs within the broader payments ecosystem.

The demand-side research was conducted through focus group discussions (FGDs) with CU members to understand their needs and preferences with respect to digital payments. It focused on the use/non-use of CU members of KAYA, a digital finance platform for cooperatives. 

The results of the demand research provided valuable input to the project. The benefits, problems, and prospects for digital finance service was discussed in the narratives produced from the FGDs.  

The study found out that majority of the CU officers and members believe that KAYA is beneficial to their cooperative. Benefits discussed were easy money transfer and withdrawals, payment of bills, and more importantly, it allows the members to easily save and loan from the cooperative. 

Measuring ‘cost to serve’ and ‘cost to use’ 

The research sought to elaborate on the following questions: To what extent do CUs serve the poor? What is the existing CU cost to serve their members? What is the cost for CU members to use CU services? 

Most importantly, the research aimed to contribute in measuring how many additional poor people can be reached if CUs offer real-time, interoperable payment / transfer services. In other words, SEDPI wanted to find out through this study how credit unions are expanding financial inclusion in terms of membership and services. 

To achieve these objectives, SEDPI conducted in-depth interviews (IDI) with identified CU members across different CUs.  

SEDPI was able to generate estimated cost to use specific services based on the individuals interviewed. Individual profiles of CU members were also carefully gathered to personalize them for BMGF. All these were done while using a consistent template for the output across the IDIs.

Majority of the CU members interviewed claimed that the services of their credit cooperatives are beneficial to them. They look forward to be able to access more and better services in the future through different improvements.

Moving forward

Both studies have produced valuable outcomes that contain very important data for a bigger scope of study. SEDPI commits to continue working closely with WOCCU’s implementing partners to further enrich the findings of both researches. SEDPI is confident that this collaboration will have a great impact in the field of development finance. 

Furthermore, the organization looks forward to further leading the conduct of several future research and programs that will further enhance its contribution to promoting and expanding financial inclusion among poor communities in the country and to the other unbanked populations of the world. 


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