How Mobile Solutions Help Bridge the Gap: Moving the Underserved to Mainstream Financial Services
According to the 2011 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, more than one-quarter of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked, conducting some or all of their financial transactions outside of the mainstream banking system. While these consumers may not have accounts at formal financial institutions, many of the unbanked have mobile phones. Mobile technology and product innovation can help underserved consumers access mainstream financial services that are safe, secure, convenient and affordable. Many financial services providers and prepaid card programs offer mobile banking-like features (e.g., mobile alerts, bill payment, money transfers, and remote deposit capture) that enable the underserved to take advantage of the convenience afforded by such services without requiring a traditional bank account. This report reviews ten currently available payment products that include mobile banking features with the potential to help underserved consumers meet their financial needs. The products are offered by banks and nonbanks and represent a broad portfolio of available features and services that are suitable for a diverse underserved population with varied preferences and financial needs. The analysis describes the benefits and strengths of each product's mobile features in meeting the needs of the underserved, and offers suggestions for improvement. The analysis also explores the challenges to consumer adoption and concerns of product providers, and suggests recommendations to overcome these challenges.