An estimated 10 million American households are "unbanked" or "underbanked" -- they do not have accounts at banks and other mainstream financial institutions. Unfortunately, as a result, these cash consumers pay excessive fees for basic financial services, are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders, or have difficulties buying a home or otherwise acquiring assets. To help increase awareness of these problems, to promote practical solutions, and to explain the benefits of bringing the unbanked into mainstream financial services, the FDIC hosted a symposium at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on November 5, 2003. The topic of the symposium was "Tapping the Unbanked Market: Helping People Enter the Financial Mainstream."
The symposium featured a congressional panel with Congressmen Spencer Bachus, Rubén Hinojosa, and David Scott. The luncheon speakers were Congressman Michael Oxley, Chairman, House Committee on Financial Services and Kelvin Boston, host of the PBS-TV show "Money Wise". A video was presented, "A New Opportunity...The Unbanked", that humanized the unbanked issue. Dr. Angela Lyons, an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who recently completed a study of Money Smart financial education efforts in Chicago; and John Bryant, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Operation HOPE, Inc closed out the symposium. In addition, innovators from banks, community organizations, bank regulatory agencies and academia participated in the following three panel discussions:
Laying Out the Welcome Mat: How to Attract (and Retain) the Unbanked;
Beyond Toasters: Account Incentives that Really Work, and Why; and
Thinking Outside the Bank: How Groups in Your Community Can Help You Reach the Unbanked.
This symposium dealt with attracting and retaining customers from the unbanked population, and ways to form meaningful partnerships in the community.