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Volume 5, Issue 1, 2005   Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Task Force Launched to Promote Financial Services for Immigrants

Participating in a regulatory panel at the Austin forum were, from left, John Heasley, executive vice president and general counsel, Texas Bankers Association; Aaron Satterthwaite, community affairs liaison, Office of Thrift Supervision; Michael Frias, community affairs officer, FDIC; David Lewis, district community affairs officer, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; Alfreda B. Norman, community affairs officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Texas now has its own task force focused on encouraging immigrant access to mainstream financial services. A coalition of financial institutions, federal agencies and community organizations, the Texas New Alliance Task Force (TNATF) was officially launched on April 27 at a forum in Austin where participants discussed issues and obstacles in providing financial services to immigrant markets.

TNATF has been in the works since spring 2004, when planning began for a Texas coalition modeled on the Chicago New Alliance Task Force. The task force includes three working subcommittees—Asset Building, Financial Products and Services, and Regulatory Issues—that will meet monthly to address issues that impact immigrants and to discuss best practices.

TNATF plans to build on the initial rollout in Austin to eventually reach throughout Texas, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has initiated task force activity nationwide.

TNATF's mission is to facilitate asset building for immigrants by improving access to the U.S. banking system, providing financial education, and developing innovative remittance and mortgage products. The FDIC has cited a critical need for these services. Multicultural markets are experiencing rapid growth, with projected buying power increases of 77 percent and 90 percent for the Asian-American and Hispanic markets, respectively, by 2007.[1]

Eloy Villafranca
Eloy Villafranca, community affairs officer with the FDIC in Dallas, sees TNATF as an important vehicle for financial institutions to learn more about the immigrant market. "The TNATF partners bring important information and resources that can create a guide for immigrants entering the financial mainstream. The success of the TNATF will be measured by the ability of the task force to combine these resources and efficiently assist the immigrant market."

"Financial education is a big piece of this initiative," points out Alfreda Norman, community affairs officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. "Making financial services friendly and easy to reach for those who are traditionally unbanked can mean lower fees and costs for bill paying, check cashing and sending money to relatives [remittances]. Having an understanding of the workings and benefits of the U.S. banking system can also make a difference in accessing credit and other services to build wealth and assets."

Awareness is paramount not just for the immigrant, but also for financial services personnel at the front line when it comes to working with alternative forms of identification and documentation, such as the matrícula card and the individual taxpayer identification number. "Having consular ID cards gain acceptance as valid identification to open an account gives banks a great opportunity to reach out to a largely unbanked population," says Ann Baddour of Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit organization involved in immigrant financial issues.

Other ways to reach out are noted in Texas Appleseed's 2004 publication Meeting the Financial Service Needs of Mexican Immigrants: A Survey of Texas Financial Institutions. For instance, banks that resemble check-cashing stores or customer service counters are more inviting to Hispanic immigrants seeking financial services. Having personnel who speak their language is also a plus.

Bonnie Wolferd, director of emerging markets with AIG United Guaranty, sums it up: "Making our traditional financial services user-friendly and available to all individuals and families helps provide tools for wealth-building that will strengthen our economy and communities."

For more information, contact Eloy Villafranca at EVillafranc@FDIC.gov Send an e-mail or Alfreda Norman at alfreda.norman@dal.frb.org Send an e-mail.

Goals of Texas New Alliance Task Force

  • To become more visible as a facilitator in improving immigrant access to financial services
  • To inform financial institutions and others of the business opportunities that the immigrant market provides
  • To promote financial education
  • To develop innovative remittance and mortgage products


  1. "Depository Institutions in the Lead in Building Assets in Emerging Markets," by Donald E. Powell, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., March 26, 2003, www.fdic.gov/news/news/speeches/archives/2003/sp26mar03.cfm Off-site page.

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e-Perspectives, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2005

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Off-site page
Community Development Office Send an e-mail
P.O. Box 655906, Dallas, Texas 75265-5906
Gloria Vasquez Brown Send an e-mail
Vice President
    Alfreda Norman Send an e-mail
Community Development Officer
Jackie Hoyer Send an e-mail
Houston Branch
Senior Community Development Advisor
    Julie Gunter Send an e-mail
Community Development Specialist
Elizabeth Sobel Send an e-mail
Community Development Specialist
The views expressed are the authors' and should not be attributed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas or the Federal Reserve System. Articles may be reprinted on the condition that the source is credited and a copy is provided to the Community Development Office.

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