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Money Smart Press Releases


MS-002-2002 (12-05-2002)
Media Contact:
Frank Gresock (202) 898-6634

Strategies to help Latinos in the United States enter the financial mainstream were the focus of an FDIC-sponsored conference in Kansas City, Missouri, today. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) was the keynote speaker at "Lending Avenues for Latino Immigrants," which presented a comprehensive overview of opportunities for the banking industry in the Latino market.

"Latinos in the U.S. represented about $452 billion in purchasing power last year," said FDIC Chairman Don Powell. "They will soon be the largest minority group in the nation. Yet studies tell us that they also remain the most 'unbanked' group in the country; an estimated 30 to 40 percent are not affiliated with any traditional financial institution."

"Americans of Latino heritage came to this country to build a better life for themselves and their families and now, together, we are building a better America," said Senator Kit Bond. "Easier access to capital is a big part of realizing the American Dream and this is especially true for our country's newest citizens. America is always changing and the decisions and commitments we are making today mean that change will be for the better."

The purpose of the conference, which was co-sponsored by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is two-fold: to help Latinos do business with banks, and to assist banks in reaching them.

Bankers from Missouri, Kansas, California and the state of Washington related their success stories in lending to this population. Representatives from Fannie Mae and a local nonprofit, El Centro Inc., described various innovative lending programs and the alternative underwriting guidelines that accompany them. Representatives from Experian and Chex Systems described how they establish credit histories with alternate identification forms such as Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers and the Mexican matrícula consular cards, which are being accepted by more and more banks.

Initiatives to provide Latino immigrants with financial education through the FDIC's Spanish Money Smart program were also covered. The SBA, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, and the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation presented strategies for creative small business lending.

The conference included international issues as well, with a representative from the World Council of Credit Unions discussing the significance of remittances as an emerging bank product. In 2001, $23 billion was wired to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean by Latino immigrants living in the U.S. Reducing the cost of money transfers (remittances) to Mexico was a key component of the Partnership for Prosperity agreement signed by President Bush and Mexico's President Fox in September of 2001.

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Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 9,480 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed. The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars - insured financial institutions fund its operations.

FDIC press releases and other information are available on the Internet at or through the FDIC's Public Information Center (800-276-6003 or 202-416-6940).

Last Updated 12/05/2002

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