Although there has been little movement since buzz started more than a year ago, micro-lending bank Grameen America Inc. said pursuing a credit union charter is still being considered.
The New York-based affiliate of Grameen Bank is known for its micro lending programs that help poor people, particularly women, and immigrants start their own businesses. Grameen Bank was launched in 1983 in Bangladesh by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
In February 2009, Grameen America met with officials from State Employees' Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, the North Carolina Bankers Association and both the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks and the North Carolina Administrator of Credit Unions to discuss setting up an affiliate in the Tar Heel state. All welcomed the bank's concept.
Grameen had previously expressed interest in obtaining a federal credit union charter in North Carolina. While that plan has not materialized, the bank hasn't given up on the idea.
"Pursuing a credit union license is one long-term strategy Grameen America has considered in its ambition to become a large scale microfinance provider in the United States," said Leslie Kane, executive vice president.
John McKechnie, NCUA director of public and congressional affairs, said the regulator preliminarily approved Grameen's field of membership Aug. 13, 2009, but the agency has not received a formal charter application from the bank yet. The last contact Grameen had with the NCUA was in February when it inquired about the chartering process, McKechnie said.