The rising technological challenges facing Philippine cooperatives like mobile wallets and the digital banking system have driven the need to “futureproof” this grassroots sector. A leading online service provider for cooperatives, digiCOOP, advocated for digital transformation to ensure the relevance of these organizations, representing 10.7 million Filipino families, during the first-ever National Cooperative Business Congress (NCBC).
“Cooperative insurance should be part of our modernization plan,” said Assistant Secretary Abad Santos of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), stressing how PUV modernization and transport cooperatives are having difficulties adapting due to limited access to financial assistance.
Traxion’s CEO Ann Cuisia, the founder and creator of digiCOOP, offered one solution: “Through digitalization and adoption of digital tools such as open finance technology, it will be easier for cooperatives to apply for loans and adapt to government mandates towards modernization much faster.”
More than 400 representatives from cooperatives all over the country attended the two-day conference at the Novaliches Development Cooperative (NOVADECI) Convention Center, discussing various programs to address the challenges in different industries including health, transportation, electric supply, and credit and financial services.
Registered under the CDA, digiCOOP is dedicated to providing a complete digital platform for cooperatives which includes an online payment gateway; a marketplace that serves both members and non-members; e-learning; and credit scoring among others. During its first year, it onboarded the top 140 co-op leaders and integrated over 426 brick-and-mortar co-op branches into its digital platform.
“Currently, the rigid requirements being imposed upon our cooperatives through the traditional financial system are hampering the growth of this grassroots sector. We are aiming to change all that with digiCOOP which makes the co-ops’ transition to online virtually seamless,” said Cuisia.
Recently, digiCOOP launched the Philippines’ first QR-code-enabled teller machine that caters to co-ops and rural banks. The Cooperation Network Teller Machine (CTM) connects cooperatives and rural banks to the traditional bank network, as well as to remittance centers and e-wallets.
“With the CTM, we are filling the gap in the traditional banking financial system to reach the underserved. Together with digiCOOP’s own mobile payment app and a core banking system specially designed for co-ops, we are bridging the digital divide, one co-op at a time,” said Cuisia.
DigiCOOP was one of the key presenters at the inaugural national cooperative gathering that included the country’s top pillar cooperatives and cooperators. The NCBC concluded the conference with a takeaway that “digitalization levels the playing field for cooperatives with private corporations” and that by working together, cooperatives — from the biggest to the smallest — can confidently forge ahead toward a future that is rife with opportunities for the grassroots.