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New Unbanked Research Tool

by Leslie Connelly on November 1, 2011

Unbanked consumers cashing checksA new research tool from Bank On provides information on the unbanked and underbanked at the community level.

Unbanked Data Includes…

The Research Your Community tool returns data on the number and percentage of households by city and metro area.  It also includes state and national numbers so you can compare your community with state and national averages.

You also get detail on at-risk populations within the defined community.  The data provided includes breakdowns by household income, ethnicity, level of education, age and citizenship.  The app even generates an interactive map, and can export data to a pdf.

Check out this great resource to get a better understanding of the needs in your local community.

Related posts:
Bank On Initiatives for the Unbanked



The working poor are moving away from traditional banks, according to a survey released by the Pew Health Group, a division of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

This report, “Slipping Behind: Low-Income Los Angeles Households Drift Further From the Financial Mainstream,” interviewed predominately Hispanic, low-income residents in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The numbers of unbanked families increased during the period 2009-2010.  32% or roughly one third of respondents reported closing their account as a result of hidden or unexpected fees; other reasons included lack of funds and employment, among others.

Alternative Financial Services

The Pew report also found (not so surprisingly) that banked customers continue to use Alternative Financial Services (AFS). Almost one-third of the banked respondents (crossover customers) continue to use check cashers and other non-bank financial services due to perceived transparency and liquidity concerns; despite having an active account.  Reasons include…

Reasons for using Alternative Financial Services

Source: Pew Trust

  • Remittance (49 %)
  • Money orders or cashier’s checks (34%)
  • Check cashing (10 %)
  • Bill Payment (38%)
    • 43% use AFS bill pay services because of posting times and cash liquidity
    • 37% claim bill payment is faster at store front check casher than at a bank

Banks win on Location

One thing that did surprise me was that bank location had the advantage; with 59% of respondents preferring banks over check cashers, due to their proximity to work or home.

I’d always perceived that check cashers won out on location, hours of operations and service offerings (not necessarily customer service!).  While location may no longer be a factor (at least in LA), providing multiple services is! 38% of crossover customers continue using check cashers because they can purchase several services at one time.


1. Alternative Financial Services are not going away. Traditional barriers to banking remain for the unbanked; including not enough money to open account, lack of proper ID, high fees, and difficulty understanding the banking system.  As a result the unbanked continue to need a place to perform their financial services.  Even some banked individuals use AFS providers for varied reasons as shown above.

2. Multiple service offerings are important.  The ability to handle all financial transactions in one place is often more important than getting the best deal on just one service (and having to travel to different locations to do it).

3. Remittance is big! 96% of unbanked individuals wire money using a money transfer shop; and 40% of banked do the same.  And they remit frequently!

Need help or advice on expanding your service offering?  Contact an AllTrust representative today at 1-877-280-1679 or email us.



Alternative Financial Services Continue to Move into Mainstream Retail

June 16, 2011

The recent CFSI show in New Orleans was wonderful; focusing on innovation and serving the global underbanked population.  For instance, SAFARICOM presented its achievements in Kenya where they have great success with their M-PESA mobile payments network.  This network allows formerly unbanked consumers, 15-million users, to store funds and pay individuals or retailers via their [...]

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FinCEN Reports on latest Suspicious Activity (SAR) filings

May 12, 2011

FinCEN released the latest SAR Activity Review – By the Numbers, with details on SAR filings for January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010.  The key findings compare reporting in 2010 to previous 12 months of 2009: Overall SAR filings increased 3.5% Non-depository institutions comprised roughly half of the reports filed (an increase of 12%) [...]

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Layers that Protect Your Check Cashing Assets

April 25, 2011

Check cashing can be a risky proposition without proper tools in place to minimize fraud. Here are a couple layers of protection that really help and can easily be implemented with the right check cashing system…. Access to data from other check cashing retailers Automatic flags for potential fraud with velocity settings Positive ID of [...]

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Next Generation Phone Cards

March 15, 2011

Phone cards as we know them today Phone cards have been around for what may seem forever.  They’re a great way to make long distance and international calling without having a long distance calling plan.  Most people are familiar with them and have used them.  They’ve certainly evolved over the years, with an endless supply [...]

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Cash! The Healthy Choice

December 23, 2010

CBC News ran an article on a new study which posits that using a credit card for purchases feels less like real money, so people who use them are more impulsive. So cash is apparently healthy? Well if not healthy at least less impulsive when presented with all those yummy things on display at the grocery or [...]

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Tops for Fiscally Responsible Citizens – Guess the State!

December 10, 2010

I read an interesting story in USA Today about a new study conducted by The Investor Education Foundation of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  FINRA asked 28,000 people questions on five key issues and used the results to produce a state-by-state look at financial capability.  The results: people in New York, New Jersey and [...]

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6 Insider Tips for Picking a Bill Pay Provider

November 29, 2010

Once you’re interested in offering walk-in bill payment services to your customers , you need to go through the process of choosing a provider.   (See Bill Payment: Getting Started if you want to know more.)  There’s no universal right and wrong here, but remember to think about the following when you select a vendor. 1. [...]

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Census survey: Who in the United States Sends and Receives Remittances?

November 18, 2010

Kind of interesting that the Census Bureau did a study on money transmittal!  Here’s link to the paper; and I posted a few of the key findings below. Of the 5.9 million households that reported sending monetary transfers abroad, 84 percent were foreign born. On average, households sent monetary transfers 6 to 7 times [...]

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