ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Though not admitting defeat and emphasizing the need to review its field of membership regulation first, NCUA appears to be saying legislative clarification may be necessary. NCUA Director of External Affairs Nicholas Owens would not directly say whether the agency found the law to be on its side or not. “We certainly believe it is the intent of Congress for credit unions to provide access to affordable financial services, especially to persons of modest means,” he commented. “However, credit unions first must be in a position to provide such access before underserved Americans can gain access to credit union service, and ultimately the American Dream of financial self-sufficiency. Clearly, members of Congress expressed the intent of credit unions to provide service to the underserved.” He added, “NCUA is reviewing its field of membership policies and as always looks forward to opportunities of working in concert with Congress to address issues, so there may be clarity on the ability of credit union service in meeting the financial services needs of the underserved, especially persons of modest means.” As Credit Union Times has previously reported (See CU Times, Nov. 16, 2005, page 8), the Credit Union Membership Access Act only specifically mentions permitting multiple group common bond credit unions to add underserved areas, but the legislative history explains that it should apply to all federal credit unions. -

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