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COLUMBIA, Md. – Responding to the increase in number of payday lenders and check cashers throughout Maryland and a desire to help credit unions reach low-income families and better compete with so-called alternative financial institutions, the Maryland Credit Union League and Maryland Credit Union Foundation are partnering with the Filene Research Institute in the Real Solutions Project. Maryland is the second state to collaborate with Filene on the national effort. The Maryland League says the threat to consumers in the state from alternative financial institutions “is real.” It cited some related statistics such as 10% of Maryland residents are new Americans – more than 500,000 are foreign born; 27% of Montgomery County, 14% of Prince George’s County, 12% of Howard County, and 7% of Baltimore County residents are foreign born and underbanked. Filene will work with MDCUL-affiliated credit unions by using case studies to demonstrate to them that providing services to low-income consumers can be profitable. The project will also help them to pinpoint products and services most needed by modest income households.

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