WASHINGTON — The federal government would make grant and loan money available to encourage financial institutions to reach out to low-income consumers who do not have credit union bank or credit union accounts, if a bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) passes.

One program would fund outreach efforts by credit unions and banks among communities in which there are large numbers of individuals who don't have accounts at financial institutions.

The other program would help financial institutions develop affordable alternatives to payday loans. Consumers who apply for loans under this grant program would also receive financial literacy education. Loans would be subject to the NCUA's loan interest rates, which for those loans currently cap the rate at 18%.

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