Technology has ushered in a brave new world of banking services. “Checking” accounts increasingly have fewer checks, or complement “checkless checking” accounts. In 2010, for the first time in 15 years, the number of bank branches in the United States declined. Meanwhile, mobile banking technology has emerged as a substitute for some of the activities that would normally lead someone to a bank branch, such as depositing checks and transferring funds. And prepaid debit cards that have many of the same benefits as a bank account—such as mobile tools, access to cash at ATMs, and the ability to make purchases online—increasingly look like bank accounts, even if they are not all regulated this way. Regulators have also been paying attention to these issues, including the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has fielded thousands of consumer complaints. This report will walk through the newfound problems—and recognize the progress—of the current banking environment for low- and moderate-income consumers, and briefly discuss cities’ efforts to address these concerns before suggesting potential recommendations to expand financial access. (author abstract)
Financial access in a brave new banking world
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