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  • A Look at New Products for Underserved Hispanics

    Posted by on December 31, 2013

    More than one in four households (28.3 percent) in the U.S. today is underserved, conducting all or some of their financial transactions outside of the mainstream banking system. Hispanics represent a disproportionate number of this group — in fact, there are nearly 7 million Hispanic households in the U.S. that are underserved. This means that about one out of every two U.S. Hispanics falls into this classification.*

    Because of the U.S. Hispanic market’s sheer size, youth and rate of growth, it represents a large market opportunity for credit unions. Creating products and services to specifically meet the needs of underserved Hispanic consumers can give your credit union a significant competitive advantage in 2014.

    When it comes to attracting Hispanic consumers — underserved or not — one-size-fits-all financial products and services don’t work. As your member base continues to diversify, it is unrealistic for you to expect the Hispanic community to conform to your products and services — it’s got to be the other way around. Therefore, if your credit union is looking to attract more Hispanic members in 2014, you need to plan now to provide fair, dignified and tailored financial services.

    Fortunately, there are many products offered by credit unions across the country that have been created with the Hispanic consumer in mind and are a good fit for the Hispanic market. The products include culturally relevant savings programs, prepaid reloadable card; auto, micro and lifestyle loans (for quinceañeras, weddings, immigration, citizenship, travel, etc.) and financial education. If you don’t already have these products in your portfolio, now is the time to add them.

    And, even more products are on the horizon. the Filene Research Institute, is currently testing four products to benefit underserved consumers, including Hispanics, in its new financial services incubator.

    Here’s a quick synopsis of these products:

    -Non-prime Auto Lending from the National Credit Union Foundation. This program helps lenders fairly price and manage non-prime auto loans, incorporating the Lower Interest For Timeliness (LIFT) idea introduced by Filene’s i3 innovation team. LIFT is a loan feature that reduces interest rates when members make on-time payments.

    -Borrow and Save from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. This product increases consumers’ economic security by providing an affordable small-dollar loan with a payment term that makes sense for them. A built-in savings component also helps consumers self-fund their emergencies instead of borrowing money to handle them.

    -Pay Yourself Back from Innovations in Poverty Action. As an add-on to any loan type, this product seamlessly converts borrowers into savers. Leveraging the habits formed by regularly making loan payments, it encourages consumers to keep making regular payments (or a portion of them) to themselves after the loan is paid off.

    -Employer Sponsored Income, Advance Loan from North Country Federal Credit Union. This small-dollar loan program is offered to employees of select employer groups (SEGs)  partnered with credit unions. Loan payments are auto-deducted from direct-deposited paychecks. Once the loan is paid, employees may continue making payments into savings accounts.

    At Coopera, we see a lot of potential in these products for Hispanic consumers. We have found that many Hispanic consumers aren’t aware of what financial services are accessible to them, as well as struggle with basic financial education around money management and building/maintaining credit. These new products from Filene could help address these gaps and guide underserved Hispanics on a path to achieve their financial goals. We will keep you posted on how the testing phase of these products goes, as well as the potential for implementing them into your current product mix.

    *For more information about the demographics of Hispanic consumers, download the Coopera white paper “The Multifaceted Hispanic Market” at http://tinyurl.com/c8jwf45.

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