Nearly open, pot CU homing in on member needs

January 14, 2015

DENVER (1/15/15)--While The Fourth Corner CU--a credit union founded to serve the marijuana industry in Colorado--waits for the regulatory go-ahead to open its doors, it has started to investigate just what products and services it needs to offer to best accommodate prospective members.

The Denver Post reported Tuesday that a 20-question survey from the credit union surfaced online recently, with the aim that it would reveal how the credit union ought to position itself in the market.

"It's to ensure the products are designed for the industry and that the pricing is competitive," Mark Mason, an attorney helping Fourth Corner get off the ground, told the Denver Post (Jan. 13).

Mason also said the survey will help answer questions posed by the National Credit Union Administration, which is in the process of deciding whether to grant federally backed deposit insurance to Fourth Corner.

In addition to deposit insurance approval, Fourth Corner also awaits a decision from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City to approve a master account, according to the Denver Post.

"NCUA wanted to know that if the estimated number of accounts doesn't play out that they've not offered insurance to a credit union likely to fail," Mason said.

In addition to the regulatory help, Fourth Corner also hopes the survey will illustrate the banking environment in which marijuana businesses already have been operating.

The survey asks for information on where business owners already bank, which can be a touchy subject for them, as relationships with financial institutions have been precarious, the Post reported.

In several cases, marijuana businesses had accounts closed because they had shared information about where they banked.

"Some banks have even asked them to sign non-disclosure agreements before agreeing to take their deposits," said Martin Keeney, a consultant to Fourth Corner and a national expert on anti-money-laundering. "Our future membership is not that open and transparent to the world at large about their banking needs and where they are banking now."