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Table of Contents

Lead Story

The payments sphere 2009:
Looking back, looking up


Industry Update

Radiant, Computer World in the lawsuit soup

Mobile payments at a crossroads

Tweaking interchange down under

NEAA preview


GS Advisory Board:
The best moves of 2009 - Part II

The payments industry numbers game:
Volume over price

Research Rundown

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

Mercator of good cheer about gift cards

Unbanked + underbanked Americans top 60 million

Patti Murphy
The Takoma Group

Signs of the future


Reaching the unbanked

Patti Murphy
The Takoma Group

Should you buy stock in a terminal manufacturer?

Brandes Elitch
CrossCheck Inc.


Street SmartsSM:
Time management for 2010

Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang

Fighting the payment squeeze:
Alternatives retailers may consider

Pat Morgan
Total System Services Inc.

Fees you can't ignore

Ken Musante
Moneris Solutions

Managing conflict in the workplace

Vicki M. Daughdrill
Small Business Resources LLC

Defining global processing

Caroline Hometh

POS Horoscope 2010

Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC

Company Profile

Litle & Co.

New Products

Slip-on terminal mobility

PAYware Mobile

Front-end tokenization

NYCE Payments Network LLC


Be the sale



Resource Guide


A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 28, 2009  •  Issue 09:12:02

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Unbanked + underbanked Americans top 60 million

By Patti Murphy

Editor's Note: This article, written by Inside Microfinance founder Patti Murphy, was originally published Dec. 5, 2009, by Inside Microfinance ( Reprinted with permission. Inside Microfinance. All rights reserved.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. recently released the much awaited results of the first nationwide attempt to get a handle on America's unbanked population, and the news was even more astounding than I had expected.

Conducted as a supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau's January population count, the survey reveals that 25.6 percent of U.S. households remain, for the most part, outside the banking system, and these tend to be low-income and/or minority households.

Imagine, one year after the largest bailout of the banking system (Troubled Asset Relief Program money), upwards of one quarter of taxpayers who paid for the bailout don't even use banks. And who are the most likely of these among Americans? Households headed by single parents and black and Hispanic households. Little surprise there.

One thing I find especially troubling about the survey is the degree to which it illustrates just how difficult it has become for poor and working poor families to better their lives financially. Like it or not, the banking system plays a critical role in economic survival and the creation of wealth, which means it will be even tougher for poor Americans to improve their financial situations.

Who's being left out?

Among those Americans contacted for the FDIC survey, 7.7 percent were unbanked, which translates to about 9 million households, or 17 million adults. Another 17.9 percent, or 21 million households (43 million adults), were found to be underbanked.

Households were defined as underbanked if they replied no to the question: Do you or does anyone in your household currently have a checking or savings account? Underbanked households were defined as those that have a checking or savings account but also have relied on alternative financial services, such as money orders, check cashing shops, payday loans and pawn shops, at least once in the past five years.

"Access to an account at a federally insured institution provides households with an important first step toward achieving financial security - the opportunity to conduct basic financial transactions, save for emergency and long-term security needs, and access credit on affordable terms," said FDIC Chair Sheila Bair in a statement.

The research, a follow-up to a study released by the FDIC earlier this year on financial institutions' efforts to serve the unbanked, also detailed revealing facts about the unbanked in the United States. For example:

Detailed data on unbanked and underserved Americans, broken down by state and metropolitan statistical area can be viewed online at a new FDIC Web site:

For more stories from SellingPrepaid E-Magazine, as well as breaking news and forums devoted to the prepaid sphere, please visit

Patti Murphy is Senior Editor of The Green Sheet and President of The Takoma Group. E-mail her at

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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