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WASHINGTON-Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged credit unions to dive deeper into the international remittance market to save consumers from abusive practices. Sarbanes, the Senate Banking Committee’s ranking member, introduced S. 31 earlier in the 109th Congress to expand credit union authority to offer anyone within a credit union’s field of membership wire transfer and check cashing services. “There is a great potential to increase the presence of credit unions in the remittance market,” Sarbanes stated during his remarks at CUNA’s GAC. He strongly criticized abusive wire service companies that sometimes inflate the exchange rate and charge excessive fees. He added that he has also observed great interest among credit unions and noted the IRnet, which serves 40 countries through 200 credit unions and 650 points of service. This and other efforts by credit unions to serve the underserved made Sarbanes “puzzled” over efforts to tax credit unions, which Congress decided against fairly recently. “Credit unions continue to play a role that warrants that treatment,” he stated. “Credit unions have historically been the people’s financial institutions,” the senator said. Credit union principles are “as relevant today as when the Federal Credit Union Act was passed in 1934.”

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