‘Unbanked, underbanked’ survey results expected by month’s end

The next version of the national “household unbanked and underbanked” survey results will be released by the end of October, the chairman of the board of the federal bank deposit insurance agency said Friday.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Chairman Jelena McWilliams noted the survey results release date in remarks during the agency’s 8th Annual Consumer Research Symposium Friday in Arlington, Va.

The survey results, typically published every even-numbered year and conducted in cooperation with the Census Bureau, provide measurements on access to and use of mainstream and alternative financial services at the national and state level. The 2016 survey also included 68 large metropolitan areas.

Results from that survey (also published in October of that year) found that 7% of households were unbanked – that is, lacking any account relationship at an insured institution. The survey also showed, FDIC said, that an additional 19.9% of households were underbanked (that is, households in which a member had a bank account, but nevertheless turned to alternative financial services providers during the year to address one or more needs for transactional services such as check cashing or credit).

Altogether, according to FDIC, the results reported in 2016 stated that 90 million Americans, (about 27% of households) were unbanked or underbanked.

In her remarks at the FDIC research conference, McWilliams noted the critical nature of consumers becoming part of the financial system. “There are people now struggling to become part of the system,” she said. McWilliams noted that even those with the most updated mobile phones may not even have a credit card or access to credit. “Technology can help us expand access to credit,” she said, adding that consumers (particularly younger ones) often need to bridge the gap between access to financial services in general, and financial services that they need.