DENVER-One person believes that the new year offers tremendous opportunities for credit unions to grow their unsecured lending portfolios around credit cards.

While many CUs have outsourced their credit card lending in recent years, Bob Long, SVP of sales at Vantiv, a payments processing firm, said 2013 offers an opportunity for credit unions to reenter the credit card issuance arena, and drive both interest income and fee income.

"The economic winds are changing," said Long. "Consumers are willing to spend more money, credit scores are getting better, knowledge around the bureau and bureau scoring within underwriting capabilities of credit unions are getting better, and a lot of this is helping dictate and drive this opportunity within the credit union space."

Long said that it's unclear at this point whether or not there is a ceiling to boosting credit card portfolios, but said that dialogue will continue for the next several years.

The SVP stressed all categories of unsecured lending are growth opportunities for CUs in 2013, but credit card issuance may be the best option, "versus a non-interest income play of an agent portfolio where they garner fee revenue based on referrals to a third party, now they're looking at insourcing this, because this is the way the tailwinds are telling us it's going to be for the next two to five years."

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