Map showing the location of the underbanked population. Source: Shutterstock.

A huge challenge facing the nation’s low- and moderate-income residents is their lack of access to financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. Studies have shown that low-income individuals and families are more than six times as likely as others to be unbanked or underbanked, with younger consumers in particular tending to rely on non-traditional financial options.

As a result, unbanked and underbanked people are not only forced to depend on costly alternatives, but they also find it difficult, if not impossible, to secure affordable credit building options that are required to establish or improve their credit rating and enable them to obtain a loan to buy a home, start a business and build generational wealth. The problem is particularly acute for members of diverse communities. According to a 2021 Federal Reserve report, Black (40%) and Hispanic (29%) adults are more than twice as likely to be unbanked or underbanked compared to white adults (13%).

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