Former U.S. Rep. Joe Baca to Lead National Effort to Broaden Access to Capital and Credit for Middle-Income Consumers and Small Businesses

WASHINGTON (Feb. 19, 2013) –– Today, the leadership of the Financial Services Innovation Coalition (FSIC) announced that former U.S. Rep. Joe Baca is continuing his decades-long focus on extending financial and credit services solutions to middle-income consumers by joining the FSIC to lead a reinvigorated effort to expand the availability of financial services and online credit solutions for low- to moderate-income consumers and small businesses.

“Throughout my career in Congress and the California General Assembly, I have championed expanded consumer credit access for hardworking individuals who often find themselves shunned from the mainstream banking system.  These are tough times for the American people.  It is essential that we do all we can to ensure every family and small business innovator has access to the credit necessary to support their families, their communities and market innovation.  

“I am excited to be joining the Financial Services Innovation Coalition as we work to chart a responsible path forward to connect the more than 70 million financially underserved consumers with safe, sound and transparent financial services products.”

Baca served more than 12 years in Congress on behalf of the people of California’s Inland Empire.  He played a leading role on the House Financial Services Committee where he championed greater access for low- to moderate-income consumers whose credit needs were overlooked by traditional financial services providers.

“America does not suffer from a lack of capital or those who want to lend it.  What stands in the way is a financial services system guided by a conflicting set of outdated, ineffective policies that vary widely by state,” Baca added.  “A 2011 FDIC survey found that 66 percent of the largest money center banks, 43 percent of midsize banks and 36 percent of even the smallest banks are aggressively marketing to underserved consumers.  The good news is that a growing number of  these companies are increasingly partnering with local, community-based organizations to help connect with potential customers while placing a priority on sound, affordable credit solutions.  Our coalition seeks to strengthen and shine a spotlight on this proactive market activity.  Despite this positive activity, there are still entrenched banking interests that cling to outdated operating business models that ignore the credit needs of those who need it most and, in the process, undermine opportunities for growth and investment in promising communities.

Into that space has stepped progressive technology and small business innovators like BillFloat and others who serve customers in person or online.  The fact is, as a legislator, I have rarely seen large financial interests actually ask to be regulated, but that is precisely what is happening now. 

“This is the United States of America.  In the country that I love, with the track record that I’ve witnessed firsthand, I refuse to believe that those who want to lend cannot work with legislators, on a bipartisan basis, to craft an open, above board regulatory climate that meets the needs of underserved consumers and 21st century innovators.”

A spokesperson for the coalition, Sharon Jenkins, welcomed Congressman Baca’s leadership and added, “Last year, the FSIC was focused on working with leaders on Capitol Hill and beyond to craft bipartisan legislation that would meet the credit needs of underserved consumers.  With Congressman Baca leading our expanded efforts, our work now includes working to give voice to leaders in small business, micro-finance and agricultural lending among others. The lack of lending options for all Americans is a drag on our economic growth.  The Congressman’s experience and track record in serving diverse constituencies is a welcome addition to our accelerated efforts.”

The FSIC is a growing network of non-bank members whose interests extend from technology, to micro-finance, capital identification and investment to supporting promising small business startups and incubators in underserved communities. In 2013, FSIC will shine a spotlight on the power of micro-lending and investment—especially in heretofore neglected markets—and will work with federal, state and local legislators, and community leaders, who share a passion for matching proven investment strategies to meet the short- and long-term credit and investment needs of individual consumers, families and growing commercial interests.