PALO ALTO, Calif.—The World Council of Credit Unions is embarking on a partnership with Boom that aims to expand financial access for un-banked and under-banked consumers around the world. The project attempts to make it easier to transfer funds internationally, in particular for those in cash-only economies.
Pete Kelly, Boom’s VP of business development, noted that the widespread use of cell phones combined with the vast numbers of un-banked consumers globally gives both groups an opportunity to provide vital services to consumers around the globe while also expanding access to credit unions and banking services.
U.S. consumers will be able to deposit funds at 7-Eleven and another participating merchants and consumers in under-banked societies can then receive a text message notifying them that the funds are available to them at a participating credit union. “The consumer is immediately banked once those funds are sent to them,” said Kelly. “The CU itself can disperse all of those funds, but it can also gently nudge them into other financial services.”
Kelly likened Boom to Paypal, pointing out that if a consumer has a Paypal account, regardless of the consumer’s financial institution, “you know that you have Paypal, this is how you use it, this is the level of service I can expect, regardless of the underlying institution.” Additionally, he said, CUs dispersing the funds get the opportunity to push other products and gain new members without incurring the cost of marketing and supporting the brand.
"For now, loading money at a 7-Eleven is a much more feasible option than going to a credit union branch," said WOCCU's remittances manager Saul Wolf. "That's just the reality that the typical immigrant works in today."
Kelly declined to discuss the costs associated with launching the project or any financial relationship between Boom and WOCCU. This is Boom’s first foray into the credit union market. The company was founded in 2008. Boom accounts carry a $25 annual membership fee and members must pay $2 per deposit, but transfers are free.
WOCCU said its role in the partnership will be as a broker and facilitator of the business relationship, providing Boom an avenue into international CU markets. Additionally, WOCCU will offer technical expertise and resources where needed, said Kelly. The two groups are not yet ready to reveal which countries the project will be launched in (that announcement is set to come in about three weeks), but Kelly indicated that there will likely be a heavy focus on places like Latin America, the Philippines, the Caribbean and other with cash-based economies and a strong base of cash-based consumers.