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CHICAGO – Federal Reserve Board Governor Ben Bernanke acknowledged credit unions’ commitment to international remittances during a conference on financial access for immigrants hosted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He remarked that the immigrant community had become much more visible and economically important in recent years. “Unlike some earlier periods, during which political refugees made up a larger share of the inflow of migrants to the United States, most immigrants today come for economic reasons, driven by the hope of making better lives for themselves and their families,” Bernanke stated. He pointed out that those immigrants represent about 11% of the U.S. population, they make up almost 13% of the workforce. Bernanke said entrepreneurial data is even more impressive when you consider the limited financial resources of immigrants with 10% starting their own businesses. Banks currently have only a small percentage of the remittance services market, but the he sees that growing rapidly in the future. The Fed governor added, “Credit unions, particularly those serving predominantly Latino constituencies, have been proactive in attracting customers through their remittance services.” The World Council of Credit Unions began work on remittances in 1997 and introduced the IRNet in July 2000. Working with other institutions, “IRNet now provides remittance services to more than forty countries. At last report, nearly two hundred credit unions in thirty-seven states offer this service,” Bernanke said.

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