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<p>ALEXANDRIA, Va. – NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar will testify March 14, along with other financial regulators, about credit union needs in the Regulatory Relief package being prepared by the House Financial Services committee. Because of the March 14 testimony, the March NCUA Board meeting has been rescheduled to Wednesday, March 13. An NCUA source said that Dollar would use the time before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit to reiterate the points the agency made to the committee in an August 31 letter about credit unions’ regulatory relief needs. In that letter Dollar asked that credit unions have regulations eased in check cashing and wire transfers, the maturity limit on loans, investment limits on CUSOs, the “reasonable proximity” requirement in mergers, expanded investment options for credit unions and provisions for the voluntary mergers of healthy credit unions. In his speech before the GAC, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) said that the Regulatory Relief package already includes some increase in loan maturity requirements, an increase in the investments credit unions can make in CUSOs and provides “some relief” on the regulations governing voluntary mergers. The agency has also recently offered credit unions three additional ways they may make wire transfer services available to nonmembers; establish a simplified membership program, using wire transfer services as part of a promotional effort and providing wire transfer services to a charitable activity. In his August 31 letter Dollar called check cashing and wire transfer services “particularly important” to credit unions serving lower income communities. “These individuals often do not have mainstream financial services available to them and often pay excessive fees for check cashing,” Dollar wrote. He argued against the reasonable proximity requirements, noting they “in effect require[s] a credit union to establish a costly location that could potentially, if unchecked, present long term safety and soundness and, unfortunately, serve[s] as a financial deterrent to credit unions who otherwise have a desire to extend financial services to the group when ATMs (or other technologies) could be used more efficiently,” Dollar wrote. “This limitation,” he added, “prevents NCUA from allowing an FCU and a group to `match up’ when it is their wish to do so, and may even prevent NCUA from adding groups to the FCU best suited to serve them.” Dollar also criticized the restrictions on credit union investments. “This limited investment authority restricts the ability of FCU’s to remain competitive in the rapidly changing financial marketplace,” Dollar wrote. “The Act should be amended to provide such additional investment authority as approved by regulation of the NCUA Board.”</p>

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