Critical Importance of Bank Account Access
Bank account access is one of the most critical aspects of the modern economy. Without a bank account, many doors are closed. Unfortunately, many still lack bank account access and rely on informal services. Providing access to these communities is a massive win for both communities and banks.
Why People Need Bank Accounts
Keeping Their Money Safe
While it is tempting for some to keep large amounts of cash instead of having a bank account, this is much more risky as cash can be stolen, lost, damaged, or destroyed. If this happens, people lose everything. However, by opening a bank account, holders are protected from events like natural disasters.
Additionally, many banks are insured, and this protection is automatically applied to all the bank accounts in these banks, adding another layer of protection for account holders. Having a bank account also protects account holders against fraud that informal financial services do not provide.
Lower Cost and Faster
Many informal financial services charge high fees for routine services such as cash checking and sending money. With a bank account, users are not required to pay a fee to cash a check or send money to a relative. Additionally, users can send secure electronic transfers that are faster and more secure than mailing a check or cash. Account holders can also have their paycheck directly deposited into their bank account, giving them quick access to their funds. Bank account access allows people to have faster and cheaper financial services.
Variety of Services
With bank account access, people can access a wide variety of financial services. Many account holders get their own debit card that allows them to make purchases online that they could not with cash. People also gain access to financing options such as mortgages, car loans, and business loans. All of these allow people to support their goals with effective financial services more efficiently. Having a bank account makes it easier to pay bills such as rent or utilities without having to rely on cash transactions.
Banks provide their customers with extensive documentation that makes it easier to manage their finances. Every transaction made with a bank-issued credit or debit card comes with a proof payment record. Customers can also use the monthly statements that banks provide to manage their finances and make budgeting and financial planning much more accessible.
What People Need from Banks
It should be easy for potential customers to visit a bank or its website and understand what kinds of bank access they can expect. People want to avoid being surprised by hidden fees or complicated terms.
Many that do not have bank account access lack the funds to pay the fees that some banks charge. They want banks that have low account minimums, no fees for ATM withdrawals, and helpful overdraft policies.
People need easy access to their bank accounts if they are going to use them. If branches or ATMs are close enough, it is likely that they will be able to open and use an account with that bank. Banks that prioritize provide many easy ways for users to access their accounts can tap into a large number of unbanked individuals.
Barriers to Bank Account Access
This has been a massive barrier to bank account access as people and communities need more financial resources to afford a bank account. This is often due to account minimums that are too high or excessive fees. In the face of these costs, many choose instead to rely on informal financial services.
Distrust and Lack of Information
Many are distrustful of banks. This could be due to a bad personal experience or banks have ignored their community. Such distrust dramatically undermines bank account access. This issue is made worse by shortcomings in financial literacy and over-complicated terms and conditions for financial services.
Many need to be made aware of what financial services are and the benefits they offer. Banks must invest in providing clear and easy-to-understand financial services and building financial literacy in communities.
Inconvenient Services and Locations
Many of the services that banks typically provide are not the best for communities that banks have historically underserved. They often need different types of financial services, such as quick cash checking and money transfer services. Additionally, many of these communities need more convenient bank branches. People often need to travel a considerable distance to go into the bank. To remedy this, banks must open branches with services customized for the local community to drive bank account access.
Costs of Informal Finance
People who lack bank account access turn to informal financial services to fulfill their financial needs. These services are much more costly when compared to services provided by banks and are incredibly expensive for low-income communities. Additionally, these informal options typically lack any insurance for users and leave people far more vulnerable financially in the long run. For example, the interest rates for payday loans are low, but charging incredibly high-interest rates can easily lead to long-run debt.
Essential Need for Bank Account Access
There are large communities that remain underserved by financial services. With proper bank account access, these communities can more easily start businesses, invest, or save their money for a home. These all serve to increase economic growth within these communities. Additionally, banks that tap into these markets can see their number of customers dramatically grow.
With proper bank account access, people can have the tools they need to get out of poverty. They are able to access loans that can be used to start a business, buy a home, or get a loan without having to pay ridiculous interest rates as with informal lenders. People are also able to save their money in a safe and insured place that is not vulnerable to theft, allowing them to accumulate their financial resources over time.
Providing bank account access required innovative solutions as these underserved communities have unique needs. This requires banks to create new financial services and solutions that can dramatically improve bank operations. Banks can streamline their processes and offer more capable solutions to all of their customers.