KONA, Hawaii-NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz, during her keynote address at the Hawaii Credit Union League’s annual convention, said that the island state’s credit unions should serve as models for mainland credit unions of how to serve their members. “As I learn more about the innovative ways that your credit unions are serving members,” Matz told participants, “I can say that credit unions on the mainland could learn a great deal from credit unions here in Hawaii.” The NCUA Board member highlighted a number of credit unions in the state that offer innovative services for the conference’s 750 attendees. For example, Windward Community Federal Credit Union offers loans as small as $100 to help members avoid payday lenders and provides risk-based lending. She pointed out the fact that no payday lenders have opened shops near the military base there demonstrates the program’s success. University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union makes land loans with no time limit on when members must build, which allows members to accumulate wealth as land values increase. The credit union also offers affordable mortgages for when they are ready to build. “Making affordable mortgages is a golden opportunity to develop loyal credit union members, and at the same time, expand the credit union market,” Matz explained. She added that more than one in three Hawaiian credit unions make business loans compared with the national average of one in six. “This might sound strange,” Matz said, “but done correctly, member business lending can actually reduce risks. Business lending can diversify your membership by reaching new members who need these loans, and it can also diversify the assets in your loan portfolio.” Credit union membership penetration in Hawaii is over twice the national average, according to Matz. The board member also described some agency initiatives to help credit unions reach new members and add services, such as field of membership opportunities, business lending opportunities, Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs), and Partnering and Leadership Successes. “These NCUA initiatives are intended to make it easier for you to help more people, by expanding your field of membership and offering needed services that will attract new members from all walks of life – especially those who are not being served by other insured financial institutions. These are the people who need credit union services the most,” she said.

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