No Social Security number? No issue: ITIN loans fill a space. | Credit Union Journal

Notre Dame Federal Credit Union in Notre Dame, Indiana, has 2,300 members out of a consumer base of 60,000 who do not have a Social Security number.

Instead, those members utilize an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, which the Internal Revenue Service concerns to individuals no matter migration status to permit them to fulfill their tax responsibilities. An ITIN can likewise be utilized to acquire banking services — if the bank or cooperative credit union enables it — and the biggest share of loans to ITIN holders goes to Hispanic immigrants, according to the ITIN Lending Guide released by Inclusiv Network, an association of cooperative credit union serving financially disenfranchised neighborhoods.

Between July 2020 and February 2022, Notre Dame FCU’s overall loan balances for ITIN-holding members grew 40% to $28 million, while its ITIN-holding members’ bank account balances increased by 92% to almost $20 million.

Large banks like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank likewise provide ITIN loans and associated services, however this classification is particularly crucial to smaller sized organizations serving Hispanic neighborhoods. As an indicator of the variety of individuals qualified for ITIN loan programs, a January 2022 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration stated that there were 5.4 million active ITINs since Jan. 1, 2021, which, since Dec. 31, 2020, the internal revenue service had actually provided 25.1 million ITINs given that the program’s beginning in 1996.

“The Hispanic market is good business,” stated Tom Gryp, Notre Dame FCU’s president and CEO. “We’re in this market not to make tons of money, but to be sustainable and profitable.”

Notre Dame Federal Credit Union has 2,300 members out of a consumer base of 60,000 who do not have a Social Security number. This group, which utilizes ITINs to open an account, has $28 million in loan balances and almost $20 million in inspecting account deposits.

Illiana Financial Credit Union in Calumet City, Illinois, increased its properties by 49% to $291 million in 2021 from the start of its ITIN program in 2013. In the exact same duration, Illiana’s overall loans grew 23% to $122 million, driven by providing to ITIN-holding members.

“We design all our programs so that, whatever we offer to our Social Security number-holders, we also offer to our ITIN-holding members,” stated Marisela Zambrano, director of organization advancement at Illiana. “We don’t see any higher risk associated with ITIN loans compared to loans to Social Security number-holders.”

The existence of an ITIN loaning program is just part of the efforts required to much better serve Hispanic neighborhoods, specialists state. Providing monetary education is important if cooperative credit union are to win unbanked Hispanics far from predatory payday loan providers with expensive rate of interest, stated Pablo DeFilippi, executive vice president of New York-based Inclusiv Network.

“Our research has found that credit unions can make loans to Hispanics within the regulatory interest rate parameters which have sufficient margins, whereas payday lenders charge 500%,” he stated.

Inclusiv’s Juntos Avanzamos [together we advance] monetary addition program motivates cooperative credit union serving the Hispanic neighborhood to accept ITIN numbers and Matrícula Consular ID cards, which are provided by Mexican consulates. Currently, 123 cooperative credit union have actually gotten Inclusiv’s Juntos Avanzamos classification.

In the neighborhood

In 2010, Hispanic neighborhood leaders in Toledo, Ohio, approached Sue Cuevas, a previous business lender, to begin a cooperative credit union. Initially working out of her cars and truck, Cuevas established the Nueva Esperanza [new hope] Community Credit Union, of which she is CEO.

As part of her outreach, Cuevas goes to regional Hispanic celebrations and deals with Hispanic companies to supply monetary education. “I go into schools to explain to parents why they and their children need savings accounts,” she stated.

In addition to accepting ITINs, Nueva Esperanza takes a look at permits, passports, Matrícula Consular cards and worldwide driving licenses, Cuevas stated. It likewise takes a look at alternative credit information, such as records from property owners and energy business. “We can put members on a small-dollar loan for 12 months and, if they repay it, we can offer more credit,” Cuevas stated.

Lenders likewise require to work with Spanish-speaking individuals from the Hispanic neighborhood in order to draw in Hispanics into their lobbies, stated Maria J. Martinez, president and CEO of Del Rio, Texas-based Border Federal Credit Union.

“People like to do business in environments where staff look like them and speak their language,” she stated. “Also, credit unions need to offer career progression to Hispanic employees and promote Hispanics into leadership roles so they can become role models and inspire other Hispanics to work in credit unions.”

Fintechs action in

Fintechs such as Miami-based Fortú, Austin, Texas-based Tend and Los Angeles-based Welcome Tech utilize apps to reach tech-savvy members of the Hispanic neighborhoods.

Welcome Tech’s multilingual SABEResPODER (Knowledge is Power) platform uses a mobile wallet connected to a debit card and checking account supplied by Green Dot Bank. It takes a look at ITINs and Matrícula Consular cards in its onboarding.

“We position ourselves as a provider of educational resources, not just bank accounts,” stated Amir Hemmat, CEO of Welcome Tech, which got $35 million in an April 2021 Series B financing round co-led by TTV Capital, Owl Ventures and SoftBank. “Our point of market entry is first-generation foreign-born householders, and we can then service their full multi-generational family. Over 70% of our account-holders use us as their primary bank account provider.”

Welcome Tech prepares to provide extra monetary items such as charge card and remittances.

“We generate first-party data from the members of SABEResPODER, which we can use as part of our underwriting model,” Hemmat stated.

Even with improvements in innovation, a physical existence in a loan provider’s regional neighborhood is very important, DeFilippi stated.

“Credit unions’ advantage over fintechs and larger financial institutions is that they can leverage their local feel to develop a relationship of trust with Hispanics,” he stated.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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