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White House Kick-Starts CU Bid To Raise Cap On MBLs

WASHINGTON-The decade-long effort to lift the member business loan limit, which had been dying on the vine, was revived by the written endorsement of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

"The administration's support of our efforts to increase the industry's business lending is a very significant step forward as we continue to pursue enactment of such legislation in this Congress," said NAFCU President Fred Becker.

Treasury Secretary Geithner told House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank that he supports raising the MBL limit for healthy credit unions to as much as 27.5% of assets, more than double the current 12.25% limit.

Credit unions have been working for years to raise the limit but were losing hope of getting a legislative change this year until a high-ranking Treasury official said during a House hearing the Obama administration supports the MBL bid as part of a broader bill that would provide small business loan capital for community banks. Geithner's letter to Frank formalizes the Administration's support.

The Treasury secretary suggested certain conditions for the increased limit, including a proven record of making MBLs, proof the credit union is near the current limit and has strong capital. "It is important that reforms are not done in a way that inappropriately introduces more risk to credit union members, the credit union system, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund or the financial system as a whole," wrote Geithner to Frank.

Frank is said to be considering adding the credit union initiative to a bill that would have the Treasury invest $30 billion in community banks to be targeted for small business loans by buying preferred shares in the banks. House members said during a hearing on the proposal last week the credit union initiative should be included as it would provide additional capital for small businesses without costing any money.

The Financial Services Committee is expected to take up the bill in the next few weeks in hopes of getting it passed through Congress by the end of the year.


Wescom Launches Mobile Banking

PASADENA, Calif.-Wescom Central CU last week said its Wescom Resources Group CUSO is rolling out its mobile banking solution for credit unions.

Wescom said its MemberEdge Mobile Banking will support a wide array of handsets and communication channels. It provides downloadable applications for a variety of smart phone devices, including Apple's iPhone, various BlackBerry models, and smart phones that run on Google's Android operating system. The smart phone apps are complemented by a browser and SMS text channels to support traditional mobile phones. With this variety of communication channels, credit unions are able to drive high mobile adoption among their members, Wescom said.

Wescom said eight credit unions have purchased the system so far. WRG assists each credit union in registering their "app store" listing, where members can search for and download their credit union's application, and submit immediate feedback and ratings.


Ent FCU Adds Trust Services

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-Ent FCU has contracted with Denver-based Investment Trust Co. to provide its members with trust services. Investment Trust opened an office two months ago in the same building as Ent's headquarters to serve credit union members and other area residents who want trust services. The office is staffed by three employees who will work for both Ent and Investment Trust and had worked for Members Trust Co., a CUSO owned by Ent and four of the other largest Colorado credit unions. Investment Trust manages about $225 million in assets for 125 wealthy families and charitable foundations.


Longs Peak Merges Into Elevations

BOULDER, Colo.-Members of Longs Peak CU, which is under a state supervisory order, voted to merge the one-time $38 million credit union into Elevations CU, the state's fifth-largest credit union. Longs Peak, based in Loveland, reported a $204,000 net for the first quarter, after a $960,000 loss for 2009, while assets have declined to $20 million. For Elevations CU, which has $930 million in assets, the deal provides an opportunity to expand into a new market. After the merger, Lisa Cortese, president of Longs Peak, will become VP of the Loveland market for Elevations.

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