June 01, 2020

NAFCU supports NCUA efforts to ensure access to military members

Capitol HillAs bankers continue to push attacks on the NCUA in an effort to stifle competition, NAFCU remains steadfast in its support of NCUA efforts to ensure military members are properly accounted for when determining a low-income credit union (LICU) designation.

Last week, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) sent a letter to NCUA's inspector general challenging the legality of NCUA's new approach to consider military personnel "in a similar manner as students attending colleges, universities, vocational or technical schools" when determining LICU designations.

The NCUA adjusted its methodology to be more inclusive of military members. The agency explained that its previous methodology for its income assessment tool only geocoded the incomes of members with a physical street address, which left many service members who use PO boxes out of the evaluation.

In a new Letter to Credit Unions, the NCUA further detailed the reasoning behind the new approach and what it means for credit unions.

However, bankers have criticized the change. NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler previously defended the NCUA's efforts in a letter to the Senate Banking Committee in response to bankers' criticism.

"It is disappointing that banking trade groups, in their efforts to stifle competition and maximize profits, would oppose efforts to maximize financial assistance for these vulnerable individuals during the current public health and economic crises," Thaler wrote.

Thaler argued the NCUA's decision "is an important step toward promoting financial inclusion that fits with the goals of the low-income designation for credit unions."

"While banking trades choose to attack efforts to do more to help our nation’s military members during these uncertain times, credit unions will continue their focus on providing the best products and services to American consumers. We hope that the banks will refocus their efforts and do the same," Thaler concluded.

NAFCU has long defended the credit union industry against baseless attacks from the banking industry; last year, NAFCU fought back against a campaign from ICBA designed to stifle credit union competition.

The association's advocacy team will continue to work with Congress and federal regulators to advance important relief measures helpful to credit unions and their 120 million members.