The nation's top credit union regulator wants to impose Community Reinvestment Act-like requirements on the nonprofits.
Norman E. D'Amours, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, announced Wednesday that he will propose a "low-income member service" rule at the agency's Sept. 16 board meeting.
"There is no question that credit unions are now doing a good job of serving all their members," he said in a statement. "We simply want to document that fact."
But the idea is likely to meet stiff opposition from the agency's two other board members, who have rejected similar overtures by Mr. D'Amours in the past.
Under the proposal, federal credit unions would have to describe plans to encourage more low-income people to join and use the credit union's services.
NCUA examiners would evaluate each credit union's performance during the course of routine safety-and-soundness exams.
If a nonprofit's performance fell short, examiners would suggest fixes. But their findings, unlike CRA exam results, would not be publicized.
Credit unions could be held accountable in another way. Any nonprofit applying to expand its member base-either by serving new employer groups, switching to a community charter, or expanding its current community area- could be rejected on the basis of the new exam results.
NCUA Board Member Dennis Dollar vowed to oppose the proposal, calling it "quotafication at its worst."
"We are not regulators of the credit unions' social conscience," he said in an interview. "It's our job to make sure that credit unions are safe and sound."
Mr. D'Amours has been highly critical of credit union trends in recent years, clashing with industry leaders and as well as fellow board members over his belief that they care more about growth than serving the poor.