Some banks are using mobile technology to answer a big challenge from regulators: how to offer consumers outside the mainstream more products and services.
One bank in a poverty stricken section of the Mississippi Delta, surrounded by check cashers on nearly every corner, is figuring out how to serve the underbanked with a combination of state-of-the-art technology and personal service, yet it complains that regulatory constraints and reams of disclosures get in the way. Others, like BBVA Compass, are just starting to design mobile apps for the underprivileged.
About 8% of U.S. households are unbanked and another 20% are underbanked, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which will publish a report this fall about expanding access to the banking system. Underbanked consumers, as the agency defines the category, have a bank account but also rely on alternative financial services outside of the banking system like check cashers and payday lenders.
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