More American households are foregoing traditional banking services, a practice that could lead to higher costs and predatory lending, according to the FDIC. Learn more about the unbanked.
The number of U.S. households going without traditional banking services has grown by 821,000, an increase of 0.6 percent since 2009, according to the 2011 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households released today by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
That leaves more than one-in-four U.S. households (28 percent) with little or no access to a federally insured institution, according to the FDIC. Banks can provide the opportunity to conduct basic transactions, save for future needs and access fair and affordable credit. Banks can also protect households from theft and predatory lenders, the agency said.
Households relying on non-bank financial services may incur higher costs, and have greater difficulty establishing credit histories and achieving financial security, according to the FDIC. They also forego consumer protections available through the banking system.
“There are many positives to establishing a relationship with an insured financial institution,” Martin J. Gruenberg, acting chairman of the FDIC, said in a statement.
“Despite these benefits, many people, particularly low-to-moderate-income households, do not access mainstream financial products such as bank accounts and low-cost loans,” states the executive summary of the report, conducted as part of an FDIC effort to expand participation in the financial mainstream.
About 10 million U.S. households (8.2 percent) do not participate in the banking system and are considered “unbanked,” while 20 percent use a federally insured financial institution, but also rely on alternative financial services, such as payday loans and non-bank check cashing, and are considered “underbanked.”
Roughly 30 percent of American households do not have a savings account, and about 10 percent do not have a checking account. One-fourth has used at least one alternative service within the past year. Unbanked rates are higher among black, Hispanic and Native American households, and households where Spanish is the only language spoken. Younger households and lower-income households are also more likely to be unbanked.
“Opportunities exist for banks to provide accounts to those households that currently do not have one and to provide financial products and services that alternative financial services providers currently supply,” said the FDIC.