ALBANY, N.Y. (7/13/15)--William J. Mellin, New York Credit Union Association president/CEO, commended state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and JPMorgan Chase on a recently announced partnership that aims to provide more financial services to the underbanked, but Mellin underscored that credit unions are already uniquely positioned to serve the underserved.
“Many of New York’s nearly 400 credit unions were specifically born out of low-income communities as a way to combat illegal loan sharks and predatory lenders,” Mellin wrote to the attorney general. “As such, credit unions are uniquely positioned to serve the financially disadvantaged.”
Chase committed to modifying its screening policies during account opening to permit consumers greater access to mainstream financial services.
New York’s credit unions now include more than 5 million memberships, and nationally credit unions boast more than 100 million credit union memberships, Mellin wrote. But as they’ve grown into full-service financial institutions, credit unions have never grown away from their roots.
“Credit unions are still found in the low-income neighborhoods that banks have abandoned; nearly every credit union in the state offers free checking to members; and credit unions consistently work to provide credit-building products and services to those with damaged credit (some of which, I might add, was damaged due to the practices carried out by major banks in the lead-up to the 2008 financial and housing crisis),” Mellin wrote.
In fact, Mellin noted credit union are active in the fight against payday lenders, while putting more consumers into mainstream financial services. “In 2014, 91 of New York’s credit unions offered small-dollar payday loan alternatives of $1,000 or less,” he wrote. “That type of lending is just simply not done anymore at these multi-billion/trillion dollar mega-banks.”