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Uzbekistan counts 123 CUs 244670 members

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TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (8/17/11)--Uzebekistan had 123 credit unions operating in the republic with 244,678 members and $228.6 million in assets as of July 1, according to a report last week from the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan. During the first half of the year, credit unions loaned $175.2 million, of which $168.1 million or 95.9% are the shares of physical persons and individual businessmen, while 4.1% or $7.1 million are legal persons or entities (Uzbekistan Daily Aug. 11).. Credit unions during the period also attracted $148 million in deposits. All amounts are in U.S. dollars.

N.Y. Fed study Small biz pessimistic on getting loans

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NEW YORK (8/17/11)--The number of small businesses that haven't applied for loans increased during the past three months to 67% from 41% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the Small Business Borrowers Poll released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The main reason was pessimism: 27% of those surveyed who didn't apply for a loan said they feared being turned down, and 19% said they are trying to pay off their own debt first ( Aug. 15). Overall there was a 10% decline in small business lending in the region, compared to last year. Lending criteria has become more difficult for small businesses, the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce told the publication. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the nation's credit unions see the trend as another reason why Congress should raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap so they can help the economy and its backbone, small businesses, generate more jobs. CUNA and credit unions are urging Congress to raise the cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would generate 140,000 new jobs and inject $13 billion in funds for small business loans. The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 1418, S.509) is making its way through Congress with a provision to lift the cap. The bill was introduced March 8 by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). It has 20 co-sponsors in the Senate. In the House, H.R. 1418, which was introduced on April 7 by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), has 61 co-sponsors. On May 2, it was referred to the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit. Some credit unions are bumping up against the cap, which means they are restricted in their small business lending and must turn away loan applicants. The New York Fed study also found that more businesses now rely on earnings and on personal and family wealth for financing. Those who applied for credit or who had sufficient funding used lines of credit more, while borrowers who were discouraged and those who are paying off debt relied on credit cards. The New York City Department of Small Business Services noted it is connecting businesses to more than 40 credit unions, banks and alternative lenders, and engaging financial institutions to create innovative partnerships that focus on increasing referrals and enhancing educational resources related to securing financing. The poll surveyed 876 small businesses in New York, northern New Jersey and Fairfield County, Conn.

Power surge puts card payments into stand-in mode

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MONETT, Mo. (8/17/11)--A power surge Monday morning at a Houston, Texas, data center for card transactions processor Jack Henry & Associates damaged an uninterruptable power system, causing credit and debit card purchases to end up in "stand-in" mode. As a result, potential purchases by members and other consumers were turned down at the point of purchase. At least one credit union, Heartland CU in Madison, Wis., was fielding calls Monday from members who said their purchases were turned down (Wisconsin State Journal Aug. 15). The problem, which was resolved the same day, occurred at 8 a.m. CT Monday "when a local utility company's transformer blew and interrupted power to our facility," Debbie Wood, general manager, marking and industry research at Jack Henry, told News Now. "We immediately converted to our generator system without interruption in service to our clients." However, when the utility company restored power by about 1:30 p.m. CT, it "damaged equipment at our facility, causing a power outage." Power was restored by 7 p.m. and connectivity to other networks was completed at about 9 p.m. The outage was restricted to only those financial institutions who process through the Houston Data Center. While they could have been located anywhere in the U.S., they were most likely in the Midwest or Southwest region, Wood said. It is not known how extensive the outage affected credit union members. "Since the stand-in transaction approvals are actually set at the financial institution level, we do not have insight into the number of end-users that might have been affected," she added. She explained what is mean by stand-in mode: "As a consumer performs a transaction such as buying gasoline with a debit card, the normal authorization process is to check to be certain that, in the case of a debit card, there is enough money in the consumer's account to cover the cost of the purchase, or in the case of a credit card, that the person has enough left on their credit limit to cover the cost of the purchase." However, some times this cannot be accomplished in a real-time environment, she said. An issue with communication equipment connecting the point-of-sale device to the network to facilitate the approval, or maintenance being formed on the network, or as in the case of Monday, connectivity to the host is lost, are examples. "In these cases, financial institutions have already pre-determined an amount, called stand-in, that they will allow the consumer to charge during this time that the system is offline. So, if for some reason a consumer goes to buy $50 worth of gasoline, and the stand-in amount set by the credit union is $100, the transaction will be approved," Wood said. However, if the stand in amount set by the credit union is $25 in the same instance, "the transaction would be declined." She said Jack Henry & Associates advises credit unions concerned about this kind of situation to "take a moment to review the pre-determined stand-in amounts that are currently set for card transactions performed in an offline mode to determine if they are appropriate."

CU raises MBL issue with president at White House economic conference

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PEOSTA, Iowa (8/17/11)--A representative from the credit union industry shared the potential benefits of member business lending(MBL) with President Barack Obama during the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, on Tuesday. Jeff Disterhoft, president/CEO of University of Iowa Community CU, Iowa City, Iowa, addressed the president directly during a break out session at the forum. Disterhoft said he impressed upon the president the same points the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions have pressed on Congress about increasing the MBL lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%: it would inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create 140,000 new jobs at no cost to the American tax payer. Disterhoft said the president appeared attentive to his concerns. “He promised to go back to Washington and look further into it,” Disterhoft told News Now. “I was very pleased to talk to the president, because not everyone who participated had an opportunity to have their industry concerns addressed,” Disterhoft added. “I was one of the fortunate ones who did.” The forum brought together small-business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities and small towns. Disterhoft said the forum, attended by roughly 100 Midwest rural business leaders, was facilitated by Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. He was asked to participate in the event by the Iowa Credit Union League, which is working with CUNA to urge Congress to raise the MBL cap. A couple hours into the meeting, the attendees broke into groups of 10 to 12 participants. Each group met about 20 to 25 minutes, at which time participants could share their individual business and industry concerns. Disterhoft said community bankers participating in the forum expressed concerns that enforcement of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. regulations were hurting bank lending efforts. Later, Obama addressed the entire group. “I was encouraged, with grain of salt,” Disterhoft said. “Anytime the president reaches out to people, I applaud that effort. And as an industry, anytime we get a chance to have dialogue with the president, it’s a positive. I left the meeting encouraged and cautiously optimistic that it was helpful to our cause.”

Counterfeit checks bear Edwards FCUs name

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EDWARDS, Calif. (8/17/11)--Edwards (Calif.) FCU has reported to News Now that fraudulent cashier’s checks are being printed and presented in the credit union’s name and should not be negotiated. The fraudulent items are green, dated Aug. 8, and are part of a check series that begins “288 … ” If the fraudulent documents are photocopied, “void” appears across the front of the checks.

Self-Help expands check-casherCU hybrid model

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DURHAM, N.C. and SAN JOSE, Calif. (8/17/11)--The Center for Community Self-Help, which is affiliated with Self Help CU, Durham N.C., and Self-Help FCU, San Jose, Calif., announced a partnership Tuesday to expand a check-casher/credit union hybrid model. The center partnered with Citi Community Development--part of Citi, a global financial services company--to provide the model that has the look and feel of a check-cashing business, but also provides responsible financial products and services tailored for unbanked individuals (ENP Newswire Aug. 16). The center’s first micro branch, which primarily serves Latino immigrants, opened in San Jose in January. “The micro branch is designed to meet the financial service needs of low-income families today and to connect them with actionable education and asset-building products that create economic opportunity and security for the future,” said Martin Eakes, CEO of Self-Help CU. “Through this collaboration with Citi Community Development, we will be able to serve thousands of Californians that would otherwise lose significant portions of their incomes to predatory providers.” Roughly 106 million unbanked and underbanked people in the U.S. use alternative providers for their day-to-day financial services because they are unable or unwilling to access financial products and services from mainstream financial institutions, said the organization in a press release. In California, more than 47 % of Latinos, or nine million, are unbanked. As a result, alternative providers--such as check cashers, pawn shops, consumer finance companies and payday lenders--have emerged, sometimes using irresponsible practices, the center said. Twelve million people every year are trapped in a cycle of payday loans with interest rates as high as 400%, transferring $5 billion every year from working families to predatory payday lenders, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, based in Durham. The micro branch provides asset-building opportunities not available when people cash their checks at alternative check-cashing outlets. These include depository services, the chance to develop or repair credit ratings and access to responsibly provided credit. To help clients take advantage of these opportunities, the micro branch model uses innovative, “in-line” financial education, in which “bite-size” financial management concepts are delivered at the teller line, when consumers are focused on their financial decision-making.

NYIB recognizes two for youth fin-ed contributions

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PITTSBURGH (8/17/11)--Among the professionals recognized at the National Youth Involvement Board's (NYIB) 2011 Annual Conference in late July in Pittsburgh, two were chosen for exemplary work in youth marketing, youth education and leadership development. NYIB named Anne-Marie Bisson as the 2010 Delegate of the Year. A 20-year veteran of Jeanne D’Arc CU in Lowell, Mass., Bisson built the credit union’s Community Education division from the ground up, starting in 2005. Last year, her team delivered financial education to more than 4,000 people. She also oversees four high school branches and serves on the Massachusetts Credit Union League’s Financial Literacy Committee. NYIB’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year is Shannon Tackett, communications officer at Northwest FCU Foundation in Herndon, Va. Tackett works with local students, teaching them the importance of spending and saving money wisely. In addition, Tackett develops community outreach programs and works on the foundation’s scholarship programs. She is on the board of the Virginia Jump$tart Coalition and co-chaired the Virginia Credit Union League’s Financial Literacy Committee. NYIB invites nominees for annual recognition including the Delegate and Volunteer of the Year, along with scholarship winners to attend its NYIB Annual Conference, National Credit Union Foundation Development Education Training, and the World Council of Credit Unions Young Credit Union People Program (WYCUP). For more information, use the link.

Minnesota honors Maxwell Herring Desjardins winners

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (8/17/11)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) announced the statewide winners of the 2011 Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins competitions. All 13 winners will advance to the national competition where they will compete with other credit unions nationwide in their respective award and asset categories in September. The awards are sponsored by MnCUN and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Minnesota’s 2011 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award winners include:
* Star Choice CU, Bloomington, $20 million to $50 million in assets; * Minnesota Valley FCU, Mankato, $50 million to $100 million; * Greater Minnesota CU, Mora, $100 million to $200 million; * City & County CU, St. Paul, $200 million to $500 million; * Hiway FCU, St. Paul, $500 million to $1 billion; and * Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, more than $1 billion.
Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award winners were:
* Greater Minnesota CU, $50 million to $250 million; * TopLine Federal CU, Maple Grove, $250 million to $1 billion; and * Affinity Plus FCU, more than $1 billion.
Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award winners consist of:
* United Educators CU, Apple Valley, $50 million to $150 million; and * Greater Minnesota CU, $150 million to $500 million.
Desjardins Adult Financial Education Awards winners were:
* Greater Minnesota CU, $150 million to $500 million; and * US FCU, Burnsville, more than $500 million.

Federation council on aging to aid older adults

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NEW YORK (8/17/11)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and National Coalition on Aging (NCOA) have launched a national initiative to help seniors achieve economic security.
Click to view larger image The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and National Coalition on Aging (NCOA) have partnered to help seniors achieve economic security. Community development credit union grantees, representatives from NCOA Economic Security Centers and other local organizations serving older adults take part in training in Atlanta. From left are: Cheryl Fatnassi, CEO, Opportunities CU, Burlington, Vt.; Jane King, certified financial counselor/financial educator, Opportunities CU; Jim Pendulik, chief financial officer, Fairfax County (Va.) FCU; Cathi Bazzon, associate director, Rogers Park Community Center, Chicago; and Kristen Cox, marketing and community relations, North Side Community FCU, Chicago.
The federation will link eight community development credit unions (CDCUs) and eight economic casework sites with NCOA Economic Security Centers and other local organizations providing economic assistance to aging populations. The initiative was funded by 16 grants from the federation’s Economic Security for Low-Income Aging project. Project grantees--nine representatives from CDCUs and seven representatives from NCOA Economic Security Centers--met Aug. 9-11 in Atlanta for training. At the training, the federation and NCOA advised them on products and information to help older members navigate financial challenges, make educated decisions and remain financially independent. The federation, NCOA and other partners learned about basic benefits and assistance for older members; discussed programs and financial products needed by older populations; learned how CDCUs can market their products and services more effectively to this demographic; and developed a data-collection process that measures the initiative’s impact on economic stability and security.
Click to view larger image National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions Senior Program Officer Melanie Stern (left), and National Council on Aging Director of the Economic Security Initiative, Ramsey Alwin, address participants at the recent training. (Photos provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
“The training helped us become aware of the value each of our organizations brings to the table to improve and enhance the lives of older adults in our communities,” said Cynthia Banks, director of Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services, one of the NCOA partner sites.” By partnering with local organizations in NCOA’s network, CDCUs ensure they are working with reliable organizations that have older adults’ best interests in mind, said the federation. Also, agencies serving older adults can be confident that they are sending their clients to trusted financial institutions. The collaborations will help the CDCUs reach underserved seniors in their communities and tailor their product and program offerings to their specific needs. The federation’s Economic Security for the Low-income Aging program is funded by the New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies, through its Aging Program, which seeks to help vulnerable seniors become financially secure and advance supportive measures for long-term change.

CU System briefs (08/16/2011)

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* BOSSIER CITY, La.(8/17/11)--Barksdale FCU donated $5,000 to Chaplain Lt. Colonel O'Dell at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., to assist more than 1,100 military families recently affected by flooding on the base, reported the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews Aug. 10). Many families were displaced and just recently were allowed to return home. Virgil Barnette, board chairman of the $968 million asset, Bossier City-based credit union, told the league, "We wanted to help those families who have given so much for our country." … * SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (8/17/11)--Heritage Trust FCU's Summer Financial Fun Day on Aug. 3 at its new branch in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., promoted savings to more than 40 children and their parents, who learned about the benefits of a credit union and the right ways to save. Each child received a savings tool kit designed for children ages 3 to 12 by author and financial expert Dave Ramsey. Branch manager Robby Bryant instructed attendees on how to use the kits and presented new ways to save. Victoria Hansen from Channel 4 News shared a story book, "Junior's Savings Adventure," written by Ramsey. Children especially liked depositing their change through the credit union's automatic coin machine, said the Summerville-based credit union. They deposited more than $500 during the event. (Photo provided by Heritage Trust FCU) … * SALISBURY, N.C. (8/17/11)--Mark Curran has been named president/CEO of Lion's Share FCU, a $30 million asset credit union based in Salisbury, N.C. Curran previously was senior vice president of business development for Palmetto Cooperative Services LLC, an item processing credit union service organization based in Columbia, S.C. Before joining Palmetto, Curran was a senior account manager with CUNA Mutual Group. He also has more than 15 years of branch operations experience at Raleigh, N.C.-based Coastal FCU. He graduated from Southeast CUNA Management School as president of the Class of 1991 …