Arizona Story Archive

Arizona Among the First States to Adopt Model Legislation for Money Transmission Services

Phoenix, AZ — The Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions (DIFI) applauds Governor Doug Ducey’s signing of SB1580 into law. Sponsored by Senator David Livingston (LD22), SB1580 adopts the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) Model Money Transmission Modernization Act, which strengthens the quality and effectiveness of state regulation of money transmission services.

The lack of uniform and consistent money transmission laws from state to state has led to unnecessary regulatory burden for the industry and inefficiencies in supervision for regulators. In response, regulators, industry, and consumer stakeholders worked together over several years in conjunction with CSBS to develop the money transmission model law.

SB1580 addresses the needs of a rapidly growing payments industry, modernizes the licensing and supervision standards across the states, and increases transparency and consistency for the industry. More specifically, the model legislation seeks to:

  • Ensure states can coordinate in all areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and more effectively use DIFI’s resources.
  • Protect the public from financial crime.
  • Standardize the types of activities subject to licensing.
  • Modernize safety and soundness requirements to ensure customer funds are protected in an environment that supports innovative and competitive business practices.

“Arizona is very pleased to be one of the first states to enact these necessary reforms to money transmission laws and standards,” said Director Evan Daniels. “As DIFI seeks to advocate for tailored, effective regulation that facilitates innovation, SB1580 is a significant step in that regard by relieving unnecessary regulatory burdens, promoting safe markets, and enabling efficient supervision.”

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Welcome to GoWest Credit Union Association: CU Industry’s First Six-State Trade Group Announces New Name & Brand

Courtesy of Peter Strozniak, Credit Union Times

GoWest Credit Union Association logo.

After officially merging on June 30, the Mountain West and Northwest credit union associations announced Tuesday its new name and brand – GoWest Credit Union Association.

“The GoWest brand is a true representation of the collaboration, commitment and innovative nature of the credit unions we serve,” GoWest President/CEO Troy Stang said in a prepared statement. “They are steadfast in their passion to serve the evolving needs of their members, and GoWest embodies that mindset.”

GoWest is the industry’s first six-state trade group that represents more than 300 credit unions, 33,000 employees and their 16.5 million consumer members across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

When developing the new brand, extensive research was conducted and included gathering feedback and insights from credit union leaders in all six states, policymakers, regulators and staff into the association’s value proposition, according to the trade association.

“Our new logo connects us to our western heritage by forming an abstract mountain and sun while the clean, fluid lines indicate a path, which speaks to the journey our member credit unions take with us,” GoWest SVP of Marketing, Communications and Events Danielle Sittu said in a prepared statement. “The tagline – Go Forward. Go Together. – is very powerful, clean and simple. We are an association of cooperatives, and this is how we roll.”

The newly combined organizations also said they will launch a new website in January 2023 at gowestassociation.org.


Arizona Federal Credit Union Converts to State Charter, Changes Name

Courtesy of the Daily Independent

July 2022 — Arizona Federal Credit Union announced it is officially changing its name to Arizona Financial Credit Union, effective July 1, in line with its conversion from a federally-chartered to a state-chartered credit union. As part of the change to a state charter, the credit union is required to remove the word “federal” from its name.

Earlier this year, the credit union’s members voted to approve the charter change. With the new state charter, the credit union will be able to provide financial services to individuals and businesses across 10 Arizona counties. The federal charter limited the credit union’s field of membership to serving only Maricopa and Pinal counties and the City of Tucson.

“Changing our charter allows us to serve individuals and businesses across Arizona, and we think the word ‘financial’ in our name is much more descriptive of what we do,” said Ronald L. Westad, president and CEO. “The charter change will also result in greater value for our members, by giving us the ability to continue investments in new products and services such as enhanced online services and new locations.”

For the credit union’s 145,000 member-owners, there will be no impact to their accounts due to the charter change and name change. Credit cards, debit cards, checks, automatic deposits/withdrawals and direct deposit will work as normal.

In the upcoming months, the credit union will be updating its name on ATMs and signs at its 14 locations across the Valley. Due to the scale of the project and challenges with supply chain issues, the rebranding project is expected to be completed by this fall.

In addition, as the sponsor of the Arizona Federal Theatre in downtown Phoenix, the credit union is working with the venue’s operator, Live Nation, to rename the theatre Arizona Financial Theatre. Renaming will be completed in the coming months.

The counties making up Arizona Financial’s new field of membership include Coconino, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma.

In March, the credit union announced its planned acquisition of Horizon Community Bank, a $550 million community bank, headquartered in Lake Havasu City with six branches in Fort Mohave, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Mesa, Parker and Quartzsite. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. This will be the credit union’s second community bank acquisition following its successful purchase of Pinnacle Bank in 2019.


Mountain West Credit Union Association Issues Statement on SAFE Banking Act’s Removal from NDAA
December 14, 2021 — On Tuesday, December 7, 2021, the House Rules Committee amended the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) excluding the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. The SAFE Banking Act would allow the financial services industry to do business with licensed marijuana retailers and require those financial institutions to subject any funds to anti-money laundering requirements.

“The Mountain West Credit Association is disappointed that yet again, this legislation, which provides important protections for our credit unions that wish to provide financial services to legal entities in their states, has failed to make it past the Committee,” said Scott Earl, President & CEO. “As financial services providers serving nearly 4 million members in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming, credit unions play a central role in our communities by fulfilling banking needs that may not be otherwise available.”

Currently, however, we cannot serve an industry that generates several billion dollars in sales and tax revenues—the recreational cannabis industry— without substantial risk due to ongoing uncertainty over federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. This has become not only a states’ rights issue, but an important public safety issue. Without access to standard banking services, some of these companies have had to come up with alternative solutions. Many are unable to undertake the most basic functions of successful businesses, such as paying vendors, employees, and taxes, but instead have large amounts of money unsecured, unaccountable and at risk for abuse.

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Arizona DIFI Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month

May 2021 — The proclamation issued today by Governor Doug Ducey recognizes May as Mental Health Awareness Month –  https://difi.az.gov/sites/default/files/media/Mental%20Health%20Awareness%20Month%202021.pdf.

The Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions (DIFI) joins the Governor’s efforts to increase awareness and understanding of mental health issues, support illness prevention efforts, and commit to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.
Statistics indicate nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosed mental health condition in any given year.  Among people ages 10-34, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in Arizona and the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a 40% increase of U.S. adults who reported adverse mental health symptoms, increased substance use, and suicidal ideation.

Recent Arizona legislation exemplifies the state’s commitment to ensuring those facing mental health issues and suicidal ideation can receive appropriate care. On March 3, 2020, Governor Ducey signed SB 1523, also known as Jake’s Law, https://difi.az.gov/jakes-law, which established the Mental Health Parity Advisory Committee coordinated within DIFI.  The committee brings together mental health providers, advocates, family members, and health insurers to help guide implementation of mental health parity in Arizona – https://difi.az.gov/mental-health-parity-advisory-committee.

“Timely access to effective treatment gives individuals with mental health conditions the opportunity to lead full, productive lives. DIFI is proud to work with Arizona’s stakeholders on the hard work needed to implement Jake’s Law and bring appropriate resources to bear on this issue,” said DIFI Director Evan Daniels.  For more information, visit https://difi.az.gov/content/mental-health-parity-1


AZ DIFI issues Cease and Desist Order to Oasiss Money Exchange

FEB. 22 2021 After obtaining evidence of operating in Arizona as a money transmitter without a license, the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions has issued a Cease and Desist Order regarding Oasiss Inc. dba Oasiss Money Exchange. The order requires the company to cease operating until the company becomes licensed and issues a civil money penalty of $10,000. Arizona consumers using Oasiss Money Exchange for payments or remittances should double check all transactions to ensure proper accounting for all funds.

“This Agency will not stand by when companies take shortcuts in their regulatory responsibilities,” said Director Evan G. Daniels.  “Arizona businesses deserve a level playing field and Arizona consumers deserve the peace of mind of knowing the businesses they interact with are following the rules.”

Cease and Desist Order against Oasiss Inc. dba Oasiss Money Exchange can be found https://difi.az.gov/sites/default/files/21A-007-INS_0.pdf .

The Department recommends checking a company’s licensing record before engaging in any business transaction. Consumers can check a Department licensee’s record at https://difi.az.gov/license-search. If you believe you have been a victim of unlawful business activity in the financial services or insurance sectors, please contact the Department at (602) 771-2800 for the financial division, or (602) 364-3100 for the insurance division, respectively. Bilingual staff is available to assist.  Consumers can also file complaints online at https://difi.az.gov/complaint.


Board compensation approved by the legislature
May 11, 2016 — Phoenix —
 Colorado and Arizona recently joined the growing number of states that allow state charted credit unions the controversial option of compensating board members. (CU Times)

Interim superintendent appointed
Dec. 18, 2015 — Phoenix — Andy Tobin has been named interim superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions.

Arizona State Credit Union Ranked Number One, Ninth Year in a Row
March 25, 2015 – Phoenix, Arizona – For the ninth consecutive year, Arizona State Credit Union has been recognized as the number one credit union in Arizona by Ranking Arizona: The Best of Arizona Business. The rankings, published annually by Arizona Business Magazine, are based on the largest opinion poll in Arizona, and include more than 250 businesses and leisure categories

Vantage West Credit Union Recognized as a Great Place to Work
November 9, 2014 – Tombstone, Arizona – Vantage West Credit Union, with a branch located in Tombstone, has been named one of the country’s “Best Credit Unions to Work For in 2014.”

Arizona State Credit Union Displays All 27 Versions of American Flag in Honor of Fallen Heroes

May 22, 2014 – Phoenix, Arizona – Arizona State Credit Union will honor Americans who have died while in military service by displaying all 27 congressionally approved versions of the American flag during the Memorial Day weekend at its corporate headquarters.


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