Skip Header

Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation

Each depositor insured to at least $250,000 per insured bank

FDIC Model Safe Accounts Pilot

On January 1, 2011, the FDIC launched the Model Safe Accounts Pilot. The pilot was a case study designed to evaluate the feasibility of financial institutions offering safe, low-cost transactional and savings accounts that are responsive to the needs of underserved consumers. This pilot reflects the FDIC's commitment to ensuring that all U.S. households have access to safe and affordable banking services.

Access to mainstream financial services at an insured institution provides consumers with a safe place to save, conduct basic financial transactions, build a credit history and access credit on favorable terms, and achieve financial security. Yet, according to the FDIC's landmark study, the FDIC Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, more than one-quarter of U.S. households are underserved.

The nine financial institutions that participated in the pilot offered electronic deposit accounts that followed the FDIC Model Safe Accounts Template. A list of the pilot financial institutions is available at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/template/banks.html.

Summary

The results of this one-year pilot suggest that opportunities exist for financial institutions to offer safe, low-cost transaction and savings accounts to underserved and low- and moderate-income (LMI) consumers. Undertaking this pilot was important to informing the FDIC's efforts on economic inclusion. Several major themes were drawn from this pilot:

Results

Each quarter the FDIC collected confidential data reports about the Safe Accounts program at each participating institution; data collected included the number of Safe Accounts opened and closed, and the average opening and monthly balances. While the information cannot be taken to represent the entire banking industry or consumers nationwide, the aggregate account information provides insights about the participants' experiences. Basic results from the pilot were positive:

Lessons Learned

The participating institutions shared a number of valuable lessons learned:

Challenges

The challenges institutions experienced during the pilot primarily focused on marketing and advertising, establishing a presence in new markets, and ensuring adequate staff training:

Pilot Report

The full report is available at FDIC Model Safe Accounts Pilot: Final Report - PDF. (PDF Help)

Model Safe Accounts Template

The Safe Accounts opened during the pilot were designed around the FDIC Model Safe Accounts Template. The Template describes electronic, card-based accounts that limit acquisition and maintenance costs. Transaction accounts are checkless, allowing withdrawals only through automated teller machines, point-of-sale terminals, automated clearinghouse preauthorizations, and other automated means.  There are no overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees associated with the transaction accounts.  Safe Accounts are FDIC-insured and subject to applicable consumer protection laws, regulations, and guidance. A complete description of the features and fees associated with the FDIC Model Safe Accounts Template can be found at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/template/template.pdf.

Resources