Thaler: While big banks turned their backs on underserved communities, CUs sought to do more

NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler wrote to the House Financial Services Committee Thursday to express support for the Expanding Access for Underserved Communities Act, which would make changes to the Federal Credit Union Act to allow all types of federal credit unions to add underserved areas to their field of membership. In the letter, Thaler explained that opposition from banking trade groups is misguided when considering the vast decline of bank branches in rural areas over the last several years.

Thaler specifically pointed to a Federal Reserve study published in 2019 that details banks closing branches and moving out of these areas.

“The study showed that seven percent of rural bank branches were closed between the years 2012 and 2017 and that number has grown to 11 percent through 2019,” wrote Thaler. “Losses are not only concentrated among large banks, which shuttered 19 percent of their total rural branches, but also among community banks, which lost 5 percent.

“Credit unions, on the other hand, were the only financial institution type to add branches in both rural and urban areas, demonstrating credit unions’ commitment to their members and serving underserved communities,” stated Thaler.


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