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New banking fees sway demand toward credit unions

Oct 20, 2011 Philip Burgess

Alternative lenders are beginning to enjoy a surge in popularity as traditional banks continue to impose new fees and limitations on once-free banking services such as checking accounts and debit cards. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation recently reported that some 60 million Americans were under-banked or un-banked in 2009, Reuters reports, and that figure is expected to rise as more large banks continue to cull new revenue streams from consumers themselves. "Credit unions are an alternative source for the kind of services a bank provides," Professor Lawrence White of New York's Stern School of Business told Reuters. "I'm hoping they would see the un-banked as part of their mission. That would be the most socially worthwhile thing they could do." Data from the National Credit Union Administration shows consumer demand for short-term, small-dollar loans from credit unions grew by 52 percent in the second quarter. As credit unions step up their pitches in response to the demand, such lending trends are only expected to grow in coming months. The fate of initiatives such as fees on checking and debit cards remains in question, but most analysts expect them become standard.