Single common bond and community-chartered credit unions should be allowed to add underserved areas to their field of membership as a way to reduce the number of underbanked and unbanked Americans, NCUA Executive Director David Marquis told a House panel on Thursday.
Congress should make that change and also permit credit unions to provide services in adjacent geographic areas that are economically distressed, Marquis said in testimony prepared for delivery to the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.
The panel was hearing testimony from Marquis and senior officials of the FDIC and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as well as from banking lobbyists, academics and advocates. The hearing was called “An Examination of the Availability of Credit for Consumers.”
Marquis also urged lawmakers to release funding for the agency’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, which currently receives requests for twice as much money as it has available to lend.
He also reiterated the agency’s support for raising the cap on member business loans from 12.25% to 27.5%.
In addition he highlighted several steps the agency has taken to increase access to credit and improve people’s financial literacy.
These include: Expanding efforts to promote awareness of the low-income credit union designation and provide more assistance to DCUs seeking that designation; using the agency’s mycreditunion.gov website and its joint programs with the FDIC and Department of Education to promote financial literacy; and increased outreach to the unbanked and underbanked to help them learn more about “how to obtain consumer-friendly credit and how to join the financial mainstream.”