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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Federal credit unions added over 25 million new potential members through underserved areas last year, setting another record. In 2003, according to NCUA data, 170 federal credit unions adopted 269 underserved areas for a total population of 25.1 million. Over the last three years, 558 federal credit unions have adopted 975 underserved areas with more than 64.7 million new potential members. “I look forward to the day when residents of underserved neighborhoods have the choice of as many credit unions as they do of pawn shops and check cashers,” NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar said. The chairman credited the agency’s streamlined application process and priorities set by the Access Across America initiative for the record-setting growth of credit union services in underserved areas. Dollar emphasized that facilitating the extension of credit union service in underserved communities will remain a priority for NCUA. “Credit unions are stepping forward to provide the access, and now it’s a matter of the residents taking advantage of the opportunities presented by being a credit union member and joining the mainstream financial sector,” he said in making the announcement. Still credit unions have a long way to go to knock those pawnshops and check cashers out of these underserved neighborhoods, Dollar acknowledged. The chairman emphasized that Access Across America’s empowering approach is much more effective than “a prescriptive regulatory approach, laden with reams of paperwork.” He added that NCUA’s faith-based credit union initiative has resulted in more than 400,000 new potential members being added for a total of over 700,000 since 2002. [email protected]

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