Banking the Poor: Policies to Bring Low-Income Americans Into the Financial Mainstream
This brief proposes a cohesive strategy to increase bank account ownership among low and moderate-income households: First, and most importantly, Congress should enact a “First Accounts Tax Credit” to financial institutions to develop and deploy electronically- based banking products for low-income households. Second, the federal banking regulators should use the Community Reinvestment Act to shed light on bank and thrift performance in meeting the financial services needs of low-income households. Third, states should shift their EBT programs to bring TANF recipients into the banking system. Fourth, Congress and Treasury should support financial education to help to change the financial services and savings behaviour of low- and moderate-income households as part of an initiative to provide new financial services for the unbanked.