EU and UNCDF Launch New Project to Digitize Payments for Credit Unions in Timor-Leste

The European Union (EU) and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have launched a project to digitize the payment processes of credit unions in Timor-Leste and strengthen the digital financial services ecosystem in the country.


UNCDF will provide grant funding and technical support to the Secretary of State for Cooperatives (SECoop), the government body responsible for supervising and regulating cooperatives in Timor-Leste, to carry out these activities.

The project aims to provide credit unions with a digital payment platform to channel savings, loan disbursements, and loan repayments safely and conveniently to its members. The Covid-19 pandemic has only emphasized the need for these facilities.

SECoop has contracted Telemor Fintech, owned by Timor-Leste’s largest mobile network provider, to develop the mobile phone-based platform that will support credit union members to transact more efficiently.

This will also allow members to access a wide array of other digital financial services, including bank-to-wallet transactions, phone top-ups, account balance checks, bank transfers, bill payments and more. Moreover, it will also help develop a culture of digital and financial literacy in Timor-Leste and improve users’ access to information.

“I am really excited to launch this new initiative in Timor-Leste. It shows that government and private sector can really work hand in hand to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19 as credit union members will be able to transact at home, using their mobile phone and thus don’t need to move around to make deposits or withdrawals.” said Bram Peters, Programme Manager, UNCDF Pacific Digital Economy Programme.

This project is part of a new programme titled ‘Digital Finance for resilience in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries’ (DF4Res) and is funded by the European Union. One of the main objectives of this initiative is to enable the development of innovative digital solutions that can bring financial services closer to low-income households and marginalized communities in Timor-Leste.
Regular impact assessments will be conducted to inform project activities and showcase accomplishments and lessons learned, while ensuring knowledge transfer among partners, donors, and other similar initiatives across the world.

In this remarks the Ambassador of the European Union to Timor-Leste said “Digitalization is a priority of the EU and a strategic element of our new Multi Annual Programme with Timor-Leste, that will cover the period from 2021 to 2027. Digitalization will be key in the development of the private sector and in the training of young people, but also a fundamental tool in the management of natural resources, management of public finances and of social services. ”

About European Union
The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political union between 27 European countries that, together, cover much of the continent. The predecessor of the EU – The European Coal and Steel Community – was created in the aftermath of the Second World War and was built on the understanding that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and therefore more likely to avoid conflict. In Timor-Leste the EU is the second largest donor of development aid (grant funding). The EU is committed to support Timor-Leste 2011-2030 Strategic Development plan, which aims to transform Timor-Leste into an upper-middle-income country by 2030 based on rapid, inclusive growth enabling it to improve infrastructure, worker skills, education, training and health systems, and combat poverty and malnutrition. The EU assistance focuses on green and sustainable economic recovery and development, rural development, good governance for sustainable development and gender equality.

The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries. The UNCDF’s mandate and instruments intend to offer “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives; and by showing how localized investments – through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance – can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development.

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