US credit union apex reveals advocacy priorities for 2022

NAFCU will focus on issues such as the sector’s tax exemptions, fintechs and regulatory oversight

The National Association for Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) plans to continue its advocacy work in 2022 to press for legislation and regulation “that helps credit unions grow membership, loans and retained earnings”.

NAFCU says it will work to preserve the credit union tax exemption, ensure credit unions can establish “healthy fields of membership to better serve communities”, press for the revision of some provisions within the FCUA Act that create structural barriers to growth and eliminate additional statutory authority for NCUA to assess a Share Insurance Fund premium.

In terms of technology and innovation, NAFCU will focus on encouraging regulator National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to foster strong fintech partnerships to help credit unions provide products and services to members, support credit unions’ ability to provide custodial services for digital assets and use blockchain technology, and adopt fast, real-time payments implementation to meet changing member expectations and competitive demands.

The apex will also campaign to remove the the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s (CFPB) examination and enforcement powers over credit unions, which was introduced in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis by the the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. NAFCU argues the Act led to “one-size-fits-all regulations” that have made the industry lose over 1,500 credit unions.

Other than this, NAFCU will focus on retaining the NCUA board’s three-member, bipartisan board structure and opposing efforts to place new restrictions on lending and credit reporting that can threaten credit unions’ ability to meet the needs of their members.

In recent years, credit unions have been under attack from other banking institutions which are critical of their tax-exempt status. NAFCU says it will work to preserve the status and lobby to make fintechs, payday lenders and non-regulated entities subject to oversight. The apex also intends to campaign to hold third-party application providers accountable for fraud and remove or modify the member business lending cap, which, it says, limits credit unions’ ability to help stimulate the economy by providing credit to small businesses.

As to data protection, NAFCU says it intends to “support appropriate but not excessive examinations of credit union cybersecurity and data protection processes”. The apex says it will oppose efforts to expand interchange caps or other payment restrictions on credit unions and work to establish a federal data privacy standard that aligns with its principles on protecting consumers and harmonising existing laws.

NAFCU will also advocate for a “comprehensive federal data privacy and security standard that covers all entities that collect and store consumer information” to ensure retailers who handle members’ financial data pay their share for costs associated with data breaches. 

“Credit unions are continuing their relentless efforts to help Americans recover from hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said NAFCU president and CEO Dan Berger.

“Their commitment to supporting all communities, including those hit hardest by the crisis, must continue to be recognised by members of Congress. In these uncertain times, NAFCU and its determined board of directors have high expectations in 2022 to help the credit unions meet the needs of main street America, and is eager to continue working with the Biden administration to achieve those goals.”

NAFCU’s full position paper is available here.