FDIC Launches Campaign Aimed at Persuading Unbanked to Get Accounts

Apr 12, 2021Banks & Credit Unions, Federal Regulation, News

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recently launched a public awareness campaign highlighting the benefits of opening a bank account. The goal of the pilot campaign is to support financial empowerment by encouraging disproportionately unbanked consumers to open checking accounts that can make safer financial products more accessible.

 “Having a basic checking account can be an important first step to becoming part of the financial fabric of this country,” FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams said.

The #GetBanked initiative began at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to guide consumers in opening bank accounts online and to facilitate the distribution of economic impact payments through direct deposits. The FDIC is providing a checklist to help consumers choose the best accounts to meet their needs, and a list of local partners who can help consumers find lower-cost accounts and products.

The FDIC’s “How America Banks” report found that 7.1 million households do not have bank accounts, and nearly 14 percent of Black and 12 percent of Hispanic households are unbanked. The campaign will run in Atlanta and Houston, where the FDIC found a higher percentage of these unbanked households.

“It really is an overlap between communities that are unbanked and those who are eligible for any federal financial assistance,” said Elizabeth Ortiz, FDIC deputy director for consumer and community affairs in the division of depositor and consumer protection, according to the Washington Post. “That also means there’s a disconnect when you want to give people the money they need quickly and safely.”

This summer, the IRS will distribute more money in the form of advance child tax credit payments. Having a bank account will result in faster deposits and fewer fees for each deposit delivered. However, when asked, roughly half of unbanked families said they did not trust financial institutions or did not have enough money to meet minimum account balance requirements.

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