Dear Boards of Directors and Chief Executive Officers:
Any federal credit union with a multiple common bond field of membership1 may include in its field of membership, without regard to location, underserved communities as defined by the Federal Credit Union Act.2 To promote greater financial inclusion and strengthen communities, the NCUA encourages such credit unions to expand their service to underserved areas.
Expanding into underserved areas can also help diversify membership and increase a credit union’s lending opportunities. Adding an underserved area to a federal credit union’s field of membership does not change the nature of a credit union’s charter. A multiple common bond federal credit union may add additional groups under the NCUA’s multiple common bond expansion options after being approved to expand service to an underserved area.
The NCUA’s Chartering and Field of Membership Manual (opens new window) describes how a federal credit union can apply for approval to provide service to an underserved community. The process includes developing and submitting a business plan that specifies how the credit union will serve an underserved community. To encourage credit union expansion in underserved areas, the NCUA has created detailed guidance on how to create a business plan, and a pro forma financial statement template.
The underserved area expansion option for multiple common bond federal charters has enabled millions of consumers to gain access to affordable financial services. In view of the challenging environment we are all facing due to the pandemic, it is more important than ever to continue making credit union access available to the greatest extent possible.
If you have questions regarding how to add an underserved area to your credit union’s field of membership, please contact the NCUA’s Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion at 703.518.1150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rodney E. Hood
1 A federal credit union that serves more than one group, each of which has a common bond of occupation and/or association, is a multiple common bond credit union. See Appendix B to Part 701 (opens new window) of the NCUA regulations.
2 The Federal Credit Union Act defines an underserved area as a local community, neighborhood, or rural district that meets the definition of an investment area under section 103(16) of the Community Development Banking and Financial Institutions Act of 1994, 12 U.S.C. 4702(16), and is underserved by other depository institutions based on data of the NCUA Board and the federal banking agencies.