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Keywords:unbanked 

Discussion Paper
Banking the Unbanked: The Past and Future of the Free Checking Account

About one in twenty American households are unbanked (meaning they do not have a demand deposit or checking account) and many more are underbanked (meaning they do not have the range of bank-provided financial services they need). Unbanked and underbanked households are more likely to be lower-income households and households of color. Inadequate access to financial services pushes the unbanked to use high-cost alternatives for their transactional needs and can also hinder access to credit when households need it. That, in turn, can have adverse effects on the financial health, educational ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20210630a

Discussion Paper
Meet People Where They Are: Building Formal Credit Using Informal Financial Traditions

The Consumer Finance Institute hosted a workshop in February 2019 featuring Jos Quionez, chief executive officer, and Elena Fairley, programs director, of Mission Asset Fund (MAF) to discuss MAF?s approach to helping its clients improve access to mainstream financial markets. MAF?s signature program, Lending Circles, adapts a traditional community-based financial tool known as a rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA) to help establish or expand credit reports for participants who may not be able to do so through traditional means. Lending Circles have served more than 10,000 clients ...
Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers , Paper 19-3

Discussion Paper
The ‘Banking Desert’ Mirage

Unbanked households are often imagined to live in urban neighborhoods devoid of banks, but is that really the case? Our map of U.S. banking deserts reveals that most are not in urban areas, where financial exclusion may be endemic, but in actual deserts?largely in the sparsely populated, rural West. Across states, we find that the share of the population in a banking desert is unrelated to the share that is unbanked. If distance from a bank is not what causes financial exclusion, then motivating banks to locate closer to the unbanked may not promote financial inclusion.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20180110

Report
Who Pays the Price? Overdraft Fee Ceilings and the Unbanked

Would a cap on overdraft fees increase financial inclusion? Studying an event in which state-level caps were relaxed for national banks, we find that caps constrain the supply of overdraft credit and deposit accounts. Absent caps, banks charge customers more for overdraft but bounce fewer checks and reduce required minimum deposits. Low-income households are both more likely to open accounts and less likely to lose them, suggesting they prefer being banked despite higher overdraft fees. Overdraft fee caps thus hamper, rather than foster, financial inclusion.
Staff Reports , Paper 973

Journal Article
Unbanked in America: A Review of the Literature

We review the recent literature on the causes and consequences of financial exclusion—that is, the lack of bank account ownership—in the United States. We examine existing work in a range of fields, including economics, finance, public policy, and sociology.
Economic Commentary , Volume 2022 , Issue 07 , Pages 10

Report
The 2014 survey of consumer payment choice: summary results

In 2014, the average number of U.S. consumer payments per consumer per month decreased to 66.1, in a statistically insignificant decline from 67.9 in 2013. The number of payments made by paper check continued to decline, falling by 0.7 to 5.0 checks per month, while the number of electronic payments (online banking bill payments, bank account number payments, and deductions from income) increased by 0.6 to 6.9 of these payments per month. The monthly shares of debit cards (31.1 percent), cash (25.6 percent), and credit cards (23.3 percent) continued to be largest; while the share of ...
Research Data Report , Paper 16-3

Discussion Paper
Meet People Where They Are: Building Formal Credit Using Informal Financial Traditions

The Consumer Finance Institute hosted a workshop in February 2019 featuring José Quiñonez, chief executive officer, and Elena Fairley, programs director, of Mission Asset Fund (MAF) to discuss MAF’s approach to helping its clients improve access to mainstream financial markets. MAF’s signature program, Lending Circles, adapts a traditional community-based financial tool known as a rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA) to help establish or expand credit reports for participants who may not be able to do so through traditional means. Lending Circles have served more than 10,000 ...
Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers , Paper 20-01

Working Paper
Low-Income Consumers and Payment Choice

Low-income consumers are not only constrained with spending, but also with the type and variety of payment methods available to them. Using a representative sample of the U.S. adult population, this paper analyzes the low possession (adoption) of credit and debit cards among low-income consumers who are also unbanked. Using a random utility model, I estimate the potential welfare gains associated with policy options suggested in the literature to provide subsidized and unsubsidized debit cards to this consumer population.
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2020-3

Discussion Paper
Hold the Check: Overdrafts, Fee Caps, and Financial Inclusion

The 25 percent of low-income Americans without a checking account operate in a separate but unequal financial world. Instead of paying for things with cheap, convenient debit cards and checks, they get by with “fringe” payment providers like check cashers, money transfer, and other alternatives. Costly overdrafts rank high among reasons why households “bounce out” of the banking system and some observers have advocated capping overdraft fees to promote inclusion. Our recent paper finds unintended (if predictable) effects of overdraft fee caps. Studying a case where fee caps were ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20210630b

Journal Article
Digital Currency, Digital Payments, and the 'Last Mile' to the Unbanked

Digital forms of payment are either not accessible or highly costly for unbanked consumers. This is because these forms of payment must be "funded" by some source of money, such as cash or a bank account. That creates the "last-mile" problem for the unbanked. This article examines various solutions for the funding problem that have been proposed in the literature, by regulators, and in bills submitted to Congress.
Policy Hub , Volume 2021 , Issue 9 , Pages 9

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