January 26, 2022
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Vendor * Spotlight
Postal banking pilot lands six sales

A U.S. Postal Service pilot program to test postal banking has served just six individuals since it quietly launched in September, according to a new report.
 
Government Executive reported that six sales between Sept. 13 and Jan. 12 have provided a total value of $548.46 in gift cards and brought in $35.70 in fees to the Postal Service.
 
The program offers check cashing, bill paying, ATM access, and expanded money orders and wire transfers at locations in Washington, D.C.; Falls Church, Va.; Baltimore; and the Bronx, N.Y. Customers may reportedly cash payroll or business checks to buy single-use gift cards worth up to $500 for a flat fee of $5.95.

Source: Government Executive
Record number of credit union-bank deals expected in 2022

2022 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year for credit union acquisitions of banks. The total assets of banks sold to credit unions reached a high of $5.89 billion in 2021, up from $3.93 billion in 2019, while the deal count of 13 fell just short of the all-time high of 14 in 2019. Charles McQueen, president and CEO of McQueen Financial Advisors, said he expects between 15 and 20 such deals this year.
 
Michael Bell, partner and co-leader of the financial institutions practice group at law firm Honigman LLP who has worked on more than 40 credit union acquisitions of banks, said in an interview that he expects at least 20 announcements in 2022.
 
The rise in credit unions' bank acquisitions has overcome longstanding opposition by banking industry groups, which argue that credit unions, facing fewer regulations than banks, have unfair advantages as buyers. Opponents of the deals have gained traction with some state regulators, with Colorado and Iowa barring state-chartered banks from selling to credit unions and officials in Tennessee and Nebraska raising objections.

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence
H&R Block launches mobile banking platform

Tax preparation company H&R Block Inc. launched Spruce, a mobile banking platform that includes a spending account with a debit card, as well as a connected savings account.

The Spruce accounts do not have monthly fees, sign-up fees or minimum balance requirements. The mobile banking app also helps users in setting and keeping personalized saving goals. Moreover, users who shop with certain retailers using the Spruce debit card will automatically earn cashback rewards.

Other features of Spruce include an option to receive direct deposits up to two days early; the ability to see and monitor credit scores for free; access to overdraft protection of up to $20 through the Courtesy Coverage feature when setting up direct deposits; and the ability to allocate tax refunds.

The company revealed plans to offer digital banking services at an investor day in December 2020, without providing specifics. H&R Block previously had a banking unit that it divested in 2015.
Spruce was built with banking products powered by MetaBank NA, according to a Jan. 20 news release.
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence
US bank branch closures increase 38% to new record high in '21

In 2020, U.S. banks set a new record for shuttering retail branches as more consumers bank digitally. In 2021, banks shattered that record — by 38%.

On net, accounting for openings and closings, U.S. banks shuttered 2,927 branches, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. That included more than 1,000 branch openings and nearly 4,000 branch closings. Banks have accelerated plans to consolidate their branch footprints as the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged consumer adoption of mobile and digital channels. Further, banks have faced a tough operating environment with low interest rates pressuring margins and forcing a reconsideration of expenses.

Arkansas had 22 branch closures in 2021.

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence
CFPB to focus on credit card market competition

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it is looking to ensure there is robust and fair competition in the credit card market as debt rises following pandemic declines.
 
In a new blog post, the CFPB cited three ways it will focus on ensuring a more fair, transparent, and competitive credit card market:
  • Uncover unfair and anticompetitive practices.
  • Make it simpler for consumers to compare, switch, or refinance credit cards.
  • Scrutinize fees for late payments, cash advances, balance transfers, foreign currencies, and more.
 
The CFPB said Americans paid roughly $120 billion per year in credit card interest and fees from 2018 to 2020, roughly $1,000 per year for every American household.
Source: ICBA

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Why ICBA LIVE 2022 is seeing a first-timer spike?

ICBA LIVE 2022 is witnessing some of the highest numbers of first-time registrants ever, ICBA Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Rob Birgfeld writes in a new blog post.
 
On Main Street Matters, Birgfeld says key areas driving the excitement include:
  • Connecting with peers and colleagues.
  • Solving for the biggest customer pain points.
  • Getting up to speed on the industry’s most pressing topics.