A significant segment of the American population remains either unbanked (i.e. without a checking or savings account) or underbanked (i.e. having a bank account but also relying on alternative financial services). In 2009, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation(FDIC) reported that one in four U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked – representing approximately 60 million adults. Instead of performing financial transactions in the traditional banking system, the unbanked and underbanked often depend on the more costly alternative financial sector, which consists of pawnshops, payday and short-term lenders, tax preparers, check cashing establishments, and rent-to-own facilities.
Many families are hesitant to participate in traditional banking for fear of hidden fees and minimum balance requirements.
Bank on Philadelphia is a unique partnership with banks to provide no-fee accounts for low-income families. It is important for all community-based organizations and social services agencies to know about and refer families to these banking opportunities.