Native American Financial Services Association provides Treasury with critical information about lending products offered by Tribal Governments
WASHINGTON, DC (October 1, 2015) – The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) today announced the release of its response to a request for information by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for its study on the expanding online lending industry.
“NAFSA is proud to have provided information about lending products offered by Tribal Governments that will be critical to ensuring Treasury’s study on the industry will be valid and useful for policymakers,” said Barry Brandon, Executive Director of NAFSA. “Innovations in the financial services industry, like those pioneered by the Tribes that make up NAFSA’s membership, are providing underbanked consumers with safe and affordable access to credit when they need it the most.”
According to the most recent study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 27.7 percent of American households are unbanked or underbanked. The Treasury Department’s request underscored the barriers these consumers have faced in accessing affordable credit from traditional lenders, and acknowledged the challenges of consumers having little or no credit history as well as the high underwriting costs that can make it uneconomical for traditional lenders to make small-dollar consumer loans.
NAFSA’s response highlighted the unique position of Tribal Governments engaged in financial services as compared to ordinary businesses. Their status as sovereign nations, as well as their treatment under the Dodd–Frank Act as co-equal with state governments, enables Tribes to enact and be governed by their own set of consumer finance laws. The response also provided the department with key insights into Tribal lending businesses’ structure and operations, and emphasized the essential service NAFSA lenders provide to historically underserved consumers and the importance of these businesses to Native American economic development.
The Treasury request also announced plans to host roundtables with key industry stakeholders, which NAFSA will press to participate in.
“NAFSA looks forward to continued engagement with the Treasury Department on the online lending industry, which has proven to be an indispensable economic development tool for Native American Tribes across the country,” Brandon continued. “With many tribes facing extreme rates of poverty and unemployment on geographically isolated reservations lacking access to traditional avenues of economic growth, e-commerce has proven itself to be a lifeline to improving the social welfare of Native Americans.”
The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) formed in 2012 to advocate for Native American sovereign rights and enable tribes to offer responsible online lending products. Through the protection of consumer rights and sovereign immunity, NAFSA provides vital services to tribally operated lenders serving the under-banked with better short term financial services, furthering economic development opportunities in Indian Country.