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October 5, 2021

On the web

USPS Is Trying Out a New Business, Which Could Transform How Millions Access Cash and Pay Bills

Washington Post

“The U.S. Postal Service quietly began offering paycheck-cashing services at several East Coast post offices last month, testing a plan that financial experts say has the potential to transform how low-wage and underserved Americans access their money.  Postal customers can now redeem paychecks in Washington, Baltimore, Falls Church, Va., and the Bronx, for Visa gift cards topping out at $500, an agency spokesperson said. Postal officials expect to expand the pilot into a fuller study with more locations and financial products, such as bill-paying services and ATMs, according to three people involved with the program who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive business strategy.”

May 20, 2021

On the wires

Addressing Unbanked/Underbanked Challenges Requires Multifaceted Approach, According to New Report

“A new report, Delivering Financial Products and Services to the Unbanked and Underbanked in the United States – Challenges and Opportunities, from six trade groups outlines the obstacles and viable solutions for improving financial inclusion, providing access to bank accounts to the unbanked population in the United States, which currently represents approximately 6% of U.S. households, and for reducing utilization of high-cost non-bank financial products and services. The paper identifies the chief reasons for individuals being unbanked/underbanked and highlights existing actions from banks, credit unions, non-profits, and policymakers that have shown promise in addressing the challenge of bringing individuals more fully into the banking system. The paper also makes recommendations that policy makers should consider moving forward. The paper is authored by The Clearing House, the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, the Mid-Sized Bank Coalition of America, and the National Bankers Association.”

April 7, 2021

On the web

Are Payment Apps a Solution for Banking Inequality? Not Quite.


“As underbanked and unbanked consumers use payment apps to conveniently send cash to others, manage their money better, and access otherwise out-of-reach financial services, these tools can also come with costly fees, a lack of customer service, and cybersecurity risks. If left unaddressed, payment apps could further replicate offline inequality for unbanked or underbanked users.”

March 29, 2021

On the web

PNC Launches Checking Account for Underbanked That Limits Fees


PNC Financial Services Group Inc. launched a bank account that limits fees to help consumers facing financial pressures worsened by the pandemic maintain their access to banking services. The checking account, which has no charges for overdrafts or insufficient funds, will cost $5 a month, a company spokesperson said. It’s designed to hold on to customers struggling to pay loans or fees, according to Chief Executive Officer Bill Demchak.”

March 22, 2021

On the web

Fintech: How COVID Affected Payments and the Underbanked | Hacker Noon


“The COVID-19 pandemic was a disruptor in the purest startup sense. The immediate shift to remote work, school, and socially distanced ways of life accelerated innovation by an estimated five years . Inequalities were laid bare across countless aspects of daily life, exposing some difficult truths. Among them: financial technology (fintech) and how developments on this front left the underbanked behind, exposing critical gaps in our financial systems. Certainly, there were great launches and the public offerings of some amazing infrastructure innovations during 2020. The pandemic forced all of us who participate in the space of developing tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services — from startups to the biggest institutional finance companies — to think differently about how we deliver these services.”

January 5, 2021

On the web

January 13, 2020

On the web

NY Lawmakers Propose Electronic Payment Platform for the Unbanked

Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly

“More than one in four Americans lack adequate access to credit. Nationally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reports that 6.5 percent of households are unbanked and 18.7 percent are underbanked. How can this be remedied? One option that NPQ has covered would be to activate the US postal system to provide limited banking services, a practice that is common in other countries and was practiced in the US itself from 1911 to 1967. At the federal level, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has been a leading advocate.”

June 11, 2019

On the web

Amazon’s Newest Credit Card Could Be a Double-edged Sword for People With Bad Credit


“The Amazon Credit Builder card will function as a secured credit card, but with the same benefits as Amazon’s Store Card. When opening the card, as with any secured card, consumers must make a refundable security deposit with Amazon’s partner on the financial product, Synchrony Bank. That deposit will then represent the card’s credit limit. Consumers can establish credit lines ranging from a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $1,000.”

June 10, 2019

On the web

December 7, 2018

On the web

How the Cashless Economy Shuts Out the Poor

New York Times (paywall)

“According to government data, close to 7 percent of American households have no one in them with a checking or savings account, while an additional 19 percent are considered “underbanked,” meaning that they rely on products or services outside the conventional financial system. These include money orders and payday and pawnshop loans. The majority of people who fall into these categories are nonwhite.”

May 1, 2018

On the wires

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