NCUA Board Proposes Sweeping Field-of-Membership Reform
Millions of Americans who need affordable financial services would be eligible for credit union membership under a proposed field-of-membership modernization rule (Part 701) unanimously approved by the NCUA Board.
“There is nothing more vital to the future of a credit union than the ability to attract new members,” Board Chairman Debbie Matz said. “Our vision is to enable federal credit unions to reach potential members from all walks of life. With this proposed rule, we would expand consumer choice, increase access to affordable financial services and provide regulatory relief to a wide range of federal credit unions. At the same time, we will keep the federal charter competitive with state charters that allow more permissive field-of-membership rules.”
Consistent with the limitations outlined in the Federal Credit Union Act, the proposed rule would amend NCUA’s chartering and field-of-membership rule by:
- Modernizing the definition of “multiple common bond” to streamline the process for adding new groups to a charter;
- Enlarging the pool of potential members by expanding the areas that may be served by a community charter;
- Updating the process of defining an “underserved area;”
- Revising the “rural district” definition to include populations of up to 1 million people; and
- Expanding the definition of a “trade, industry or profession” as a single common bond.
Matz said the proposed rule was in large part the result of work by the Field-of-Membership Working Group she appointed in December 2014. NCUA Board Vice Chairman Rick Metsger had previously called on the agency to reform its field-of-membership rules.
“I would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who participated on calls with the NCUA Working Group,” Matz said. “Over the last 11 months, staff heard from hundreds of stakeholders from every region in the country. As a result, this proposal includes creative ideas, and we look forward to more input during the comment period.”