So far, credit unions participating in Filene Research Institute's accessible financial services incubator will test products to help lower income credit union members obtain auto loans and save money as they borrow money.
Working with a $700,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, Filene will distribute the products among credit unions who agree to test them with their members for 18 months beginning in January.
The goal is develop the products for use in mainstream financial institutions, both credit unions and banks, according to Kate Lawton, brand manager with the institute in Madison, Wis.
Lawton said Filene will have five products ready to test by the start of January, but has only released four so far.
Those include a program to help credit unions better price and manage auto loans to lower-income members, working with the National Credit Union Foundation; a program called Borrow and Save from the National Federation of Conmmunity Development Credit Unions which helps credit unions make low-dollar loans with a savings component to lower-income members; a program called Pay Yourself Back from the organization Innovations in Poverty Action which helps lower-income borrowers shift payments made to repay a loan to become payments made into a savings account once the loan is repaid; and a program to help credit unions create a small-dollar loan program in cooperation with credit union SEGs.
Lawton said more than 40 credit unions have signed up to be test sites for at least one of the test products and that Filene will announce the list before the program starts in January.