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ARLINGTON, Va.-In a recent speech before the Consumer Bankers Association, Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke, Jr. encouraged banks to direct their focus with shifts in the U.S. population for continued success. “It is no exaggeration to say that the industry’s future success hinges on its ability to meet the needs of the nation we are in the process of becoming,” Hawke said. He noted many minorities are often led to use nonbank financial services providers. Ten million U.S. households, or 10% of the total households, do not have a banking relationship and 60% of those are minorities. Check cashers alone generate $60 billion a year from those households, Hawke explained. He added that banks should not discount the effectiveness of electronic account access and pointed out that 45% of the Hispanic population in America are under the age of nine and growing up with computers. “I have long advocated that banks make wider use of technology, especially through the promotion of direct payroll deposit and the offering of electronic account access, to deliver banking services to low-income Americans at prices they can afford,” Hawke said. He continued, “It should go without saying that numbers of this magnitude can be ignored by the banking industry only at its peril. The people who patronize nonbank fringe providers should be your customers.” Hawke noted that the most successful banks at serving minority communities have been those who have done their homework and developed local partnerships. Many have found that marketing an entire product line in these areas does not serve the consumer or the institution very well, he said.

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