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DENVER – Citing its role to serve the “unbanked and underserved,” Denver Community Federal Credit Union has revealed plans to open a low-income branch next fall that will offer check cashing to non-members while also utilizing a stored value card. The new branch, located in a Hispanic area of Denver, is thought to be the first of its kind in Colorado and reflects a CU strategy of “transitioning” check cashers into members who “ultimately can be provided long term credit and asset building opportunities.” In detailing the opening of the branch at 11th St. and Federal Boulevard “in the fourth quarter,” DCFCU noted that “46% of the households in the neighborhoods surrounding the branch are living in poverty” and have been frequent users of payday lenders, whose growth has mushroomed in recent years. DCFCU said it would be operating the non-member check cashing and the “transitional products side” through a CUSO. Steve G. Bouras, vice president of business development, explained that his CU would also be “working with the city’s department of human services in developing the stored value card,” which employees could use as an alternative to traditional check cashing, A formal statement from DCFCU stressing its commitment “to uphold our fundamental responsibility” to serving the unbanked, said the check cashing services would be offered “at affordable prices.” Providing transaction services to the unbanked “is the first step on the path to credit union membership and longer term wealth creation.” said the credit union. DCFCU listed other products that will be made available at the branch including check cashing “with savings” providing .25 basis point of the check cashing fee directed to a savings account as well as a $250-$1,000 “credit builder share certificate” which can be used as collateral for a loan. Also in the group of products is a 30-month “Build on Share Certificate” allowing add-on increments of $25. The CU will also offer “inexpensive wire transfers to Mexico and other Latin American countries” through the VIGO network. “The ultimate goal is to provide a clear path to transitioning from purely transactional products and services to those that ultimately provide longer term credit and asset building opportunities,” said the DCFCU statement. Bouras noted there are several local and national foundations “that are helping us in opening a branch.” They include: the National Credit Union Foundation, Colorado Credit Union League Foundation, Arnie E. Casey Foundation, Denver City Council and the Piton Foundation. In developing its check cashing branch, DCFCU is also part of a Filene Research Institute pilot venture involving CUs across the country. -

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