SACRAMENTO, Calif. (3/27/15)--The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled Thursday that the state's anti-surcharging law is unconstitutional.
an amicus brief in a similar case in Florida earlier this month, arguing that allowing merchants to add additional surcharge fees to card transactions will give merchants full value of participation in the credit card system while passing costs to consumers.
"Credit cards provide the consumer a safe, efficient, convenient, seamless transaction that redounds to the benefit of merchants," CUNA Senior Director of Advocacy and Counsel for Special Projects Robin Cook argued in the brief. "Meanwhile, card issuers like credit unions assume all of the risk and guarantee the merchant will receive payment immediately. The interchange component of the merchant discount fee is how issuers are appropriately compensated for providing this service."
CUNA anticipates filing an amicus brief in the California case, arguing that a surcharge on credit card transactions could lead to consumers using credit cards less frequently.
From a credit union perspective, lower usage could cause credit unions to exit the credit card market, and be unable to provide access to consumer-friendly products such as free checking, which the interchange fees help subsidize.
Retailers have brought lawsuits in three other states arguing that price determination is a form of free speech, and by banning surcharges, merchants cannot protest the interchange fees which they believe are too high.
A similar decision was reached in New York on a similar case, and that decision is now on appeal. Anti-surcharging laws have been upheld in Texas.
WASHINGTON (3/27/15)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a plan early Thursday morning aimed at eliminating payday lending "debt traps," and CUNA is evaluating it to determine if it accomplishes its goal without hindering credit unions' efforts to provide credit to their members.
The new consumer protections would apply to payday loans, vehicle title loans, deposit advance products and certain high-cost installment and open-end loans.
"One of the goals of the founders of the American credit union movement was to create a system of cooperative finance that provided consumers with access to credit, including short-term, small-dollar loans, on fair terms and rates. Therefore, CUNA supports the ability of credit unions to provide beneficial short-term, small loans as alternatives to predatory payday lending, which has no place in the financial marketplace," said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle.
"The extent to which credit unions will be able to continue to productively, efficiently and responsibly serve their members' short-term, small-dollar credit needs will be a key measure we use in evaluating these proposals. If the rule results in consumers having reduced access to credit from credit unions or if the access to credit is made more expensive by regulatory burdens imposed on credit unions which would be more appropriately targeted toward the abusers of consumers, it will have failed to adequately protect consumers.
"We are evaluating the proposals the bureau released overnight, and we look forward to discussing them with our members, the CFPB and other policymakers," Nussle added.
The proposal would cover both short-term credit products (which must be paid in full within 45 days), and long-term loans where the lender collects payments through access to the borrower's bank accounts. One of the proposal's main focuses is requiring a lender to determine a borrower's ability to repay a loan before granting it.
For long-term loans, the CFPB is considering protections already used by the National Credit Union Administration for its payday alternative loan program. Those loans are capped at 28% interest and an application fee of no more than $20.
The other approach the bureau is examining for long-term loans would cap a loan payment amount at no more than 5% of the borrower's gross monthly income, and no more than two such loans can be made to a borrower within a 12-month period.
For short-term loans, lenders would have to verify a borrower's income, financial obligations and borrowing history to determine the consumer's ability to repay. There would be a 60-day "cooling off period" between loans--loans cannot be made within that period unless there is documentation the borrower's circumstances have improved enough to repay without re-borrowing.
Lenders also would not be allowed to keep consumers in debt on short-term loans for more than 90 days in a 12-month period. Rollover loans would be capped at two, followed by a mandatory 60-day cooling off period.
For the second and third consecutive short-term loans, the bureau is considering two options. One would require the principal decrease with each loan, so that it is repaid after the third loan, or require the lender provide a no-cost "off-ramp" after the third loan, to allow the consumer to pay the loan off over time without further fees.
WASHINGTON (3/27/15)--Nine regulatory relief bills supported by CUNA were approved by the House Financial Services Committee Thursday after a two-day markup of a series of bills.
"These bills are a step in the right direction toward removing barriers and allowing credit unions to efficiently serve their members," said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle.
"I look forward to seeing these pieces of legislation that reduce regulatory burden come the House floor for a vote. When credit unions boards and managers--not government bureaucrats--are making decisions about how to provide services, it's the 102 million member-owners of the credit union who benefit."
The bills that passed the committee Thursday include:
- H.R. 299, the Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act, introduced by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio),
a drafting oversight in the Federal Home Loan Bank Act that has resulted in a small number of privately insured credit unions being ineligible to join a Federal Home Loan Bank. This bill passed by a vote of 56-1;
- H.R. 601, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act, introduced by Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), would
- H.R. 1195, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Board Act, introduced by Reps. Pittenger (R-N.C.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.), would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by law to
the Credit Union Advisory Council, as well as the Small Business Advisory Board and the Community Bank Advisory Council. These advisory councils had previously been voluntarily established by the CFPB. The separate Consumer Advisory Board is already codified in statute. This bill passed by a vote of 53-5;
- H.R. 1265, the Bureau Advisory Commission Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), would, in effect,
CFPB advisory committee meetings to the public. This bill passed by a vote of 56-2;
- H.R. 1259, the Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Community Act, introduced by Reps. Andy Barr (R-Kan.) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), directs the CFPB to
an application process determining whether an area should be designated as a rural area if the CFPB has not designated it as one. This bill passed by a vote of 56-2;
- H.R. 1480, the SAFE Confidentiality and Privilege Enhancement Act, introduced by Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), would require that confidentiality protections provided by federal and state laws apply when state and federal regulatory officials with mortgage or financial services industry oversight authority access any information provided to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry. This bill passed by a vote of 58-0;
- H.R. 1408, the Mortgage Servicing Asset Capital Requirements Act, introduced by Reps. Perlmutter and Luetkemeyer,
federal banking agencies to conduct a study of the appropriate capital requirements for mortgage servicing assets for nonsystemic banking institutions. This bill passed by a vote of 49-9;
- H.R. 1529, the Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act, introduced by Reps. Sherman and Luetkemeyer, would exempt mortgage loans made by financial institutions under $10 billion in assets and held in portfolio for three years from RESPA's escrow requirements and would also exempt mortgage servicers that service fewer than 20,000 mortgages annually from a number of requirements of RESPA. This bill passed by a vote of 48-10; and
- H.R. 685, Mortgage Choice Act, introduced by Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), would make an important
to the Truth-in-Lending Act's definition of "points and fees." This bill passed by a vote of 43-12.
The next step in the House for these bills would be a vote on the House floor.
RICHMOND, Va. (3/27/15)--The credit union mission stood out during a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hearing in Richmond, Va., Thursday, as panelists addressed various aspects of payday lending. The field hearing was held in conjunction with the bureau's new proposal on payday lending.
While some at the hearing defended such lending as a consumer's choice, and others compared payday loans to "giving a starving man food laced with poison," panelist Stan Leicester of BayPort CU, Newport News, Va., offered a simple alternative: come to a credit union.
"Credit unions have two primary objectives: get the member out of the payday lending cycle from week to week and improve credit scores," said Leicester, senior vice president/chief financial officer at BayPort CU.
"We feel like our two primary objectives have been reached: We've done over $50 million [in short-term loans] since we started our program, and we've converted about 3,300 members out of the payday lending cycle. We're really proud of that."
BayPort started its short-term lending program in 2007, Leicester said, and it also offers a line of credit good for up to one year with a small fee and interest charged. Borrowers are required to pay off the loan within 30 days.
Leicester also added that borrowers are provided with financial counseling when they look into those types of loans. Counselors on staff look at ways the member can improve their credit score and get out of the payday loan cycle.
During the question-and-answer portion of the panel discussion, Leicester was asked what features credit union loans have that protect consumers.
"We carefully underwrite those loans to make sure the borrower has the ability to repay. Our main goal is to get them out of that payday lending cycle and get them into a more traditional product," he said. "We also do feel like many people end up improving their credit score and then once we ultimately get them into that newer product, we can do that at a lower cost."
WASHINGTON (3/28/15)--Legislation regulating Transportation Network Company (TNC) vehicles--covering services like Uber and Lyft and including insurance requirements--continues to be a hot topic in the states and among some credit unions.
A number of state credit union leagues are active--or have been in recent years--in advocating for rules that would protect credit unions and other lenders with an interest in a car being used as a TNC vehicle.
"The primary credit union concern," explained Shelton Roulhac, a CUNA director of advocacy, "is that the vehicles used for these services are personal vehicles and oftentimes, have loans on them.
"Credit unions and other lien holders require proper collision insurance to protect their collateral and personal auto insurance policies do not cover commercial use, thus leaving lapses in coverage."
Some TNCs have insurance policies that may, under certain circumstances, pay claims by drivers and passengers. However, Roulhac noted, depending on the policy terms, there still could be gaps in coverage, thus prompting legislation to require sufficient coverage.
Thus far in the 2015 session, TNC legislation has been enacted in Virginia and is awaiting the governor's signature in Utah. In 2014, bills were enacted in California, Colorado, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
And currently legislation is pending in
34 other states
. See the resource link for a full listing of where TNC bills await final action.
Daily Financial Rates -- 2015-03-27
Friday, March 27, 2015
03:55 AM CDT
TREASURY YIELD CURVE
(based on the $1 million market)
Results of the March 23, 2015 auction of short-term U.S. government bills, sold at a discount from face value in units of $10,000 to $ 1 million
||Last changed December 16, 2008 |
|near closing bid||0.080||0.070||0.070||0.110||0.110|
FREDDIE MAC (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)
FANNIE MAE (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)
COMMERCIAL PAPER (Financial, 90 days)
: Data not available at time of page generation (shown at top of page)
Wall Street Journal
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
All rates are from the previous business day unless otherwise noted.
WASHINGTON (3/27/15)--Initial claims for unemployment fell by 9,000 to 282,000 for the week ending March 21, according to numbers released by the Department of Labor Thursday.
The drop, which pushes the decline over the last three weeks to 43,000, marks the third consecutive week claims have come in under 300,000 (
"This is welcome news as the February economic data have disappointed," said Ryan Sweet, Moody's analyst (
). "Our tracking estimate of first quarter GDP is only 1% at an annual rate."
The four-week moving average for jobless claims fell by 7,750 for the week to 297,000, the second decline in the last three weeks. A four-week moving average below 300,000 is historically rare, Sweet said.
Continuing claims, meanwhile, or those who filed for unemployment benefits for at least a second straight week, fell by 6,000 to 2.416 million, according to the numbers.
Though, the four-week moving average climbed by 3,000, leaving the possibility open that the unemployment rate could rise by the end of March, Moody's said.
The insured unemployment rate, at 1.8%, did not change during the week, and sits 0.3% down on a year-over-year basis.
"There are some temporary factors hurting growth this quarter, including weather and the West Coast port disruptions," Sweet said. "The good news is that claims suggest the economy has gained some momentum heading into the second quarter."
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/27/15)--Wednesday night's tornadoes and severe storms in Arkansas and Oklahoma were the first recorded in this year's tornado season.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 25 counties after Wednesday's severe weather that resulted in at least one death, school closures and power outages for thousands in Oklahoma.
Northwest Arkansas was the location of the first touchdown by a tornado for 2015, the National Weather Service reported (
The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation said it is prepared to assist credit unions and their employees affected by the storms. "In times of crisis, the foundation is here to help our credit unions and their staff get back on their feet so that they in turn can be there for their members," said Courtney Moran, foundation executive director (
The disaster relief program has three phases:
- Emergency grants are provided to credit union employees to assist with immediate disaster relief needs, such as out-of-pocket costs that may result from being evacuated.
- Disaster relief grants are intended to assist credit union employees with significant needs. Phase two grants are intended for credit union employees with significant needs and will follow the distribution of phase one grants; and
- Phase three grants are set up for credit union employees who suffered catastrophic loss and are still needing assistance after phase two grants have been distributed.
One of the areas affected by Wednesday's storm was Moore, Okla. In May 2013, a Tinker FCU
was destroyed in the Oklahoma City suburb when a half-mile wide tornado ripped through the area (
May 22, 2013).
HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/27/15)--As part of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's iBelong campaign, Central Pennsylvania credit unions are sponsoring a monthly segment on
's "Fox 43 Morning News."
"Fox 43 Morning News" host Amy Lutz, left, talks about credit scores with Paul Perini, senior vice president of operations at Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa.
On Thursday, "Fixing Your Finances" featured Paul Perini, senior vice president of operations at Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa.
Perini explained to morning anchor Amy Lutz how credit scores are calculated and the opportunities afforded consumers if they have good credit.
"First and foremost it's the ability to get credit," Perini said. "But once you are approved, a lot of financial institutions will use your score to determine the rate of interest you pay."
Lutz asked how consumers can learn more about credit unions, and Perini referred her to
, which can help potential members find credit unions they are eligible to join.
The first segment, shown in February, featured Bob Marquette, president/CEO of Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa. The 11 segments are part of a media buy in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York market (
Life is a Highway
LAS VEGAS (3/27/15)--A large majority of the middle class worries about its financial stability on a daily basis, according to new research from CUNA Mutual Group.
Released this week during the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference in Las Vegas, the research found that 62% of middle-income Americans fret daily about their finances.
At the same time, only 6% of people said they defined success as having a lot of money.
"People define success more personally; it's about relationships and work-life balance. I like that," said Kim York, senior vice president/chief marketing officer, Ascend FCU, Tullahoma, Tenn.
Conducted by TruStage, CUNA Mutual's consumer brand, the "What Matters Now" study aims to identify how middle-income Americans define success so that credit unions may learn how to focus their operations to best serve their members.
Susan Sachatello, TruStage senior vice president, said that consumer insights such as these also help TruStage develop media plans and design products, among other things.
Other key findings from the research:
- 34% of individuals self-identified as having no banking relationship. "Understanding this population and engaging them in the credit union value proposition could be a significant source of membership growth," CUNA Mutual said; and
- Middle-income Americans rank raising good/happy kids first (38%) and having a great partner relationship second (36%) as measures of success in life. Financial stability and good health tied for third at 33%.
"We know that what matters most to members evolves over time as people go through different life stages or as our economy fluctuates," Sachatello said. "In fact, 77% of the members we talked with said their definition of success has changed over time."
Added York: "(This research) made me realize that when we're choosing art for marketing pieces, we really need to focus on kids and families. We need to position Ascend as the go-to source for members seeking stability."
WASHINGTON (3/27/15)--The rate at which consumers take advantage of mobile banking continues to climb, as 39% of adults with mobile phones and bank accounts reported using mobile banking in 2014, a 6% annual increase, according to a recent survey from the Federal Reserve.
While checking an account balance continued to be the most common activity, use of remote deposit capture experienced the biggest jump on an annual basis with a 13% increase to 51%.
After checking account balances, transferring money between accounts was the second-most common feature used in 2014, followed by alerts from financial institutions.
Further, 22% of all mobile phone users had made a payment sometime in the 12 months prior to the survey, a 5% increase annually. Bill pay was the most common type of payment, followed by online or in-app purchases.
The survey also showed where financial institutions might have an opportunity to serve the underbanked or unbanked.
While 14% of consumers in the study were underbanked, 90% of that group also had access to a mobile phone, and 73% had access to a smart phone.
Additionally, underbanked consumers used mobile banking at a higher rate than fully banked consumers, according to the study.
Shopping habits also continue to evolve thanks to the mobile phone, as 47% of consumers used their phones to compare prices on the Internet, while 33% had scanned a barcode in-store to find the best price.
More than 40% used their phones to peruse product reviews while in a store, and more than two-thirds of those who used their phones to compare prices purchased something different because of that extra information.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (3/27/15)--Strong fourth-quarter lending data from the California Credit Union League (CCUL) grabbed headlines at a number of media outlets throughout the Golden State recently.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
, for example, wrote about the "increasing power" credit unions are wielding in the state, as memberships climbed by 3.4% in 2014, according to call report data provided by the CCUL.
New-auto loans skyrocketed in 2014, according to the CCUL data, jumping 40.1% on an annual basis, while used-auto loans increased by 16.7%. Further, first mortgages and home equity lines of credit rose 11.8%, business lending climbed 7.4%, and credit card lending ramped up by 6.8%.
"Last year was our best year ever," Dwight Johnston, CCUL chief economist, told the
. "That was kind of the trend across the country. In California specifically, it had much to do with how good our economy was last year."
covered the healthy gains at the county level, using the league's call report data to show that new-auto loans at credit unions had jumped 62% on an annual basis in Sacramento County.
Used-car loans rose 15% in the county year-over-year, the
Mortgage lending also rose for the quarter on an annual basis, according to the CCUL data for Sacramento County, as first mortgages and home equity lines of credit climbed 8.5%. Credit card lending increased by 14% as well.
Fontana Herald News
also cited statewide numbers recently, reporting that California's credit unions posted a 13.8% increase in loan growth for the year, according to the league's numbers.
In the fourth quarter alone, credit unions recorded a 2.9% climb in loan growth.
"Strong job growth, coupled with a general improvement in all sectors of the economy, boosted the confidence of California consumers," Johnston told the
Fontana Herald News
. "Thanks to this rebound in confidence, consumers were more willing to borrow to purchase cars and homes."
The story that ran in the
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
also was published in the
Redlands Daily Facts
Long Beach Press Telegram
Whittier Daily News
Inland Daily Bulletin
Los Angeles Daily News
, according to Matt Wrye, media relations manager for the league.
ARLINGTON, Va. (3/24/15)--After more than a decade of filing complaints about errors--and getting nowhere--consumers are about to get relief. Under a new agreement, credit rating agencies will be required to conduct independent reviews of complaints, correct the reports and change the way they treat medical debt (PBS News Hour
The three largest credit rating agencies (CRAs)--Equifax, TransUnion and Experian--were relying on lenders to provide data, without conducting independent reviews. Consumers would find errors in their credit reports and submit documentation of proof to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but nothing would change.
The new agreement, which begins in six months and lasts three years, brings the changes consumers have been waiting for: The agencies will be required to use specially trained employees to conduct an independent review of every complaint.
In addition to independent reviews, consumers can expect:
Help with complex issues. A special team of people will deal with issues like identity theft or file mix-ups.
Improved data quality. Lenders, credit-card issuers and collection agencies will use consistent standards for reporting credit data, monitored by the CRAs.
Help with tickets or fines. The CRAs will stop reporting debts such as tickets or fines that do not arise from an agreement to pay.
More time to deal with medical debt. Consumers will have more time--180 days--to resolve conflicts over unpaid medical debt. Medical debt accounts for 52% of all debt on credit reports.
Favorably resolved medical debt will disappear from reports. After an insurer pays a medical debt, the CRAs will remove the debt from the consumer's credit report.
Expanded educational material. Consumers visiting annualcreditreport.com to obtain an annual free credit report will see expanded educational material and, if they dispute a report, no longer will have to wait a year for another free report.
The FTC estimates that 10 million Americans have errors significant enough to affect the cost of borrowing.
Request your free credit report from all three agencies once a year. Always make your requests from annualcreditreport.com
, the only site sanctioned by the FTC, or, call 877-322-8228. Better yet, monitor your credit report year round by making one request every four months in rotation among the three CRAs.
For related information, read "Six Slam-Dunk Ways to Trash Your Credit Score" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
BROOKFIELD, Wis. (3/27/15)--A recent report from CEB TowerGroup tapped Fiserv Inc.'s LoanServ platform as best of class in three of four categories.
LoanServ was recognized in the areas of core servicing functions, shared systems and enterprise support.
The Loan Servicing Systems Technology Analysis report cited LoanServ as one of the most comprehensive enterprise loan servicing systems available for small, medium and large loan servicers.
LoanServ provides self-service options for borrowers to access and update their information online in real-time, make payments, request payoffs and print payment histories. It also has been enhanced to help borrowers avoid delinquency and default and to help loan servicers meet regulatory requirements.
Further, LoanServ allows customer service scripting guidance to be embedded in the loan servicing process, facilitating problem resolution and improving customer satisfaction.
Over the past 10 years, Fiserv expanded LoanServ from a mortgage-only system into a comprehensive enterprise loan servicing system that can manage consumer, auto and equity loans.