Minorities and Banking Access

For most of us, the first step in financial planning is opening a bank account. A bank account is a useful tool for paying bills, cashing checks and, perhaps most importantly, saving for emergencies and to achieve financial goals. An estimated 20 million households do not have a bank account (often referred to as unbanked), and another 20 million are underbanked (they may have a bank account but also use non-banks such as check cashing agencies, payday lenders or pawn shops for financial transactions). 60% of these households are white, 19% Latinos and 16% black. Their median household income was almost half the national median income. Using non-bank providers often have substantial costs to the largely poor households that use them, but for many households they are outweighed by other factors that push them to these alternatives. For some it’s reluctance to share personal information or simply a lack of cash. For others there are more preventable reasons, such as the three below, that can be addressed through actions by either the government, private financial institutions or both.

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