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Pilot Successful; Fannie To Buy 40-Year Loans

WASHINGTON-Fannie Mae said a pilot program it operated with 22 CUs over the past 18 months on 40-year mortgages was a success, leading the secondary mortgage market giant to agree to buy longer-term loans on a nationwide basis. Fannie said last week it would be stepping up its purchases of these loans, providing lenders with an incentive to offer more of them.

Thomas Lund, Fannie's acting EVP of single-family businesses, told executives at a mortgage banking conference last week that the company would be making the 40-year mortgage a standard product. A formal lender announcement will be issued at the end of the month.

First Data/Western Union Acquire Vigo

DENVER-First Data Corp., parent of Western Union, said last week it has agreed to acquire Vigo Remittance Services, one of three international money transfer companies contracted by the World Council of CUs to provide low-priced remittance services to compete with Western Union and other money transfer services.

First Data said Vigo will be used to expand its rapidly growing Western Union business in Latin America and the Caribbean, where Vigo is especially strong. Vigo is one of three money transfer companies, along with TravelEx and MoneyGram, that have partnered with WOCCU to provide low-cost remittances through the International Remittance Network, known as IRnet, which is used by more than 100 credit unions. It's not clear what affect the deal will have on the IRnet partnership.

Vigo, based in New York, was founded 20 years ago to provide money transfer services to Brazilians living in New York and New Jersey and has since expanded its business to serve 47 countries, now operating 3,700 agent locations in the U.S. and 47,000 payment locations around the world. Western Union is the world's largest international money transfer service, operating 225,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories.

Tax Credits Go To CU Groups

WASHINGTON-The Treasury Department said last week it had awarded 41 organization a total of $2 billion in tax credits under the New Markets Tax Credit Program, including the first credit union organization. The program, part of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Program, is aimed at attracting private-sector capital into low-income communities to help finance development projects, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Self Help Ventures Fund, a subsidiary of Self Help CU, will receive $95-million in tax credits to expand its secondary market program for non-conforming mortgages in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The award will allow the for-profit arm of Self Help CU to receive a credit against federal income taxes over seven years for making equity investments in qualified investment vehicles known as Community Development Entities. Self Help CU has been a major partner with the CDFI program, and has received several grants for a variety of programs during its 10-year existence.

HELC-Linked Debit Card Debuts

LOWELL, Mass.-Jeanne D'Arc CU has unveiled a debit card linked to a home equity line of credit. The MasterCard-branded card will allow members to use the card everywhere that MasterCard is accepted, while tapping their home equity.

The Credit Union Journal's On Deadline coverage is sponsored by Liberty. For info: www.libertysite.com. (c) 2005 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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