Colombia: I pay you! (te pago)

The cooperative centre VISIONAMOS based in Medellín has approx. 300,000 members; among the institutions monitored by the Colombian supervisory authority for the financial sector, it is the first to operate a payment system (TEPAGO) for SCCs. TEPAGO (translated "I pay you") is tasked with conceptualizing, developing, implementing and positioning low-cost financial services for geographically-dispersed cooperatives. TEPAGO has been specifically designed for segments of the population without access to the financial sector. The aim is to integrate these groups into the SCC system. Owing to the self-help approach with a local focus, transaction costs can be kept low. Two DGRV consultants are working in the VISIONAMOS project and assisting with the introduction and application of instruments developed by the DGRV. Their counterparts in cooperation are the affiliated TEPAGO cooperatives. This process involves an adaptation to the network, reinforcement of internal controls, and the building-up of management information systems. The fact that VISIONAMOS member cooperatives now apply accounting guidelines to standardize the handling of transactions by TEPAGO is the first indication of successful consultancy. Diagnostic mechanisms ensure the safe operation of the network and provide concrete information for strategic planning.
During the short period since the foundation of TEPAGO, three of the six cooperatives affiliated to the network have issued 27,000 debit cards, and handled some 228,000 transactions and a volume of approx. 43 million USD for mostly impoverished members.