Banks want to offer short-term consumer loans but regulatory constraints make it difficult. Credit unions are piling into this line of business. It all translates into a rare opportunity for traditional nemeses to cooperate.

A group of six banks, including Bank of America (BAC) and TD Bank, has provided financial and administrative support to help CommunityWorks Federal Credit Union open in Greenville, S.C. The single-branch institution, which opened last month, plans to target low-income consumers, many of whom it expects to get through referrals from banks.

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