FOM expansion would help communities hurt by bank closures

Credit unions cannot match the sheer number of bank branches but stand ready, willing, and able to help reverse the negative trends that for-profit banks have put into motion, CUNA wrote to a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs subcommittee. The Subcommittee on Economic Policy conducted a hearing Wednesday on the economic impacts of bank mergers.

“Any serious discussion of policy remedies to address access to financial services in banking deserts and underserved communities must include modernizing laws and regulations which hinder credit unions from serving those the banks have left behind,” the letter reads. “We continue to work with Members of Congress to introduce legislation expanding our field of membership. We strongly encourage the Senate Banking Committee to look into field of membership expansion today and in future committee hearing.”

CUNA notes bank mergers “undoubtedly lead to branch closures,” pointing out bank branches decreased from 96,292 to 78,626 from 2012-2922. In that same period, the number of credit union branches increased from 21,274 to 21,193.

Additionally, from December 2019 to March 2023, credit unions have opened a net of 700 branches while banks have lost a net of 7,500.


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