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Unbanked and Underbanked Consumers in the U.S., 4th Edition


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Unbanked and Underbanked Consumers in the U.S., 4th Edition


As of 2015, approximately 40% of adults age 18+ are unbanked. Notably, this represents an increase of 9% from 2008, which suggests that more and more people are either unserved by traditional banking institutions or are finding competitive alternatives to traditional banking.

Unbanked and Underbanked Consumers in the U.S. provides industry participants the insight they need to help serve unbanked and underbanked consumers. The report does the following:
  • To assess the relationship of the unbanked with the broader financial services market, the report leverages custom survey research to segment unbanked consumers in two ways: unbanked (those without checking/savings accounts; and institution unbanked (unbanked consumers who have not used a bank for other products or services in the past 12 months). Where possible, analysis related to the unbanked is trended from 2008 to 2015.
  • Explores two distinct groups—unbanked Hispanics and unbanked 18-34s—and their financial services relationships, including loan usage, type of banks used, language spoken in the home, foreign-born status, credit score. Analysis extends to remittances, prepaid cards, and other product solutions.
  • Assesses commercial banking trends and innovation, including account usage motivators and challenges, bank distrust trends, fee and expense trends, and product leadership examples.
  • Assesses retailer trends and innovation, focusing on supermarkets, discount store, convenience stores and drug stores, share of unbanked customers, and their retail preferences. Analysis of remittances, transaction-based alternative financial services, and prepaid cards is included, as are product leadership examples.
  • Analyzes unbanked and underbanked usage of remittances, including usage by major brand and demographic, and product leadership examples; as well as regulatory trends affecting payday loans and payday loan and pawn demographics.
  • Studies reloadable prepaid account trends and innovation, including growth trends, demographics, regulatory issues, and top used prepaid cards, as well as product leadership examples.
  • Throughout the report, studies mobile trends and innovation, with a chapter set aside that trends mobile/smartphone usage among the unbanked by demographic and mobile banking engagement.
  • Trends unbanked bill payment methods, and studies trends in cash usage.


  • Executive Summary
    • Report Scope
    • Report Summary
      • Unbanked and underbanked usage trends
      • Banks: trends & innovation
      • The retailer connection: trends & innovation
      • Remittances & payday lending: trends & innovation
      • Reloadable prepaid accounts: trends and innovation
      • The mobile connection: trends and innovation
  • Unbanked and Alternative Financial Services Usage Trends
    • 2008-2015 unbanked trends
      • 43% of unbanked have not used banking institution in past 12 months
      • These "institution unbanked" consumers represent almost 1 in 6 adults
      • Percentage of "institution unbanked" declines
      • Bottom line: less prevalent need for basic accounts
        • Table Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, 2008-2015
      • Lower incomes tie to being unbanked, but high-income consumers joining the ranks
        • Table Unbanked Consumers, by Demographic, 2008-2015
      • Percentage of "institution unbanked" declines across demographic groups
        • Table Institution Unbanked Consumers, by Demographic, 2008-2015
      • Share analysis
        • Table Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Share, by Demographic, 2015
      • Unbanked but bankable?
      • Loan usage among unbanked
        • Table All, Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Loans Have, by Loan Type, 2015
        • Table All, Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Loans Have, by Lending Institution Type, 2015
    • Drilling down: Hispanics
      • Trending Hispanic unbanked over time
        • Table Hispanic Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, 2008-2015
      • Hispanics: demographics, by banked status
        • Table Hispanic Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Share by HH Income and Age, 2015
        • Table Hispanic Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Share by Language Spoken in Home, 2015
      • Hispanics: loan usage, by banked status
        • Table Hispanics: All, Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Percent Having Loans, by Loan Type, 2015
        • Table Unbanked Hispanics: Percent Having Loans, by Loan Type and Language Spoken in Home, 2015
        • Table Hispanics: All, Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Percent Having Loans, by Loan Type, 2015
    • Drilling down: Millennials
      • Trending unbanked age 18-34 over time
        • Table Unbanked and Institution Unbanked Age 18-34, 2008-2015
      • Prepaid and PayPal
        • Table Reloadable Prepaid Card Account and PayPal Account Usage: Banked vs. Unbanked, 2015
      • 18-34s: demographics, by banked status
        • Table 18-34s: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Share, by HH Income and Race/Ethnicity, 2015
      • 18-34s: loan usage, by banked status
        • Table 18-34s: All, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Percent Having Loans, by Loan Type, 2015
        • Table 18-34s: All, Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: Percent Having Loans, by Lending Institution Type, 2015
    • Bill payment methods and forms of payment
      • Bill payment methods
        • Table Methods Used to Pay Bills: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, by All, Hispanic and 18-34s, 2015
      • Bill payment forms of payment
        • Table Always Use Cash to Pay Bills: Unbanked, 2008-2015
        • Table Always Use Cash to Pay Bills: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: All, 18-34s, Hispanics, and Smartphone Users, 2015
    • Alternative financial services trends
      • Reasons for using AFS
      • Transaction-based AFS
        • Table Household Use of Transaction-Based Alternative Financial Services, by HH Income and Race/Ethnicity 2013
      • Credit-based AFS
        • Table Household Use of Credit-Based Alternative Financial Services, by Demographic, 2013
      • Usage of alternative financial services, by type
        • Table Alternative Financial Services Household Use in Past 12 Months: Unbanked, Underbanked and Both, by Type of Service, 2013
        • Table Underbanked Household Use of Alternative Financial Services, by Type: Use in Last 12 Months, 2011-2013
        • Table Unbanked Household Use of Alternative Financial Services, by Type: Ever Use vs. Use in Last 12 Months, 2011-2013
  • Banks: Trends & Innovation
    • Why is a bank account important?
      • Electronic banking affects need for banking account
      • Banking status is dynamic
    • Bank account usage motivators
      • Ease of use, simplicity, and security
      • Local community support, financial advice and references
    • Bank account usage challenges
      • Money and fees
      • Documentation
      • Trust and privacy
      • Demographic analysis: HH income
        • Table Main Reason Why Unbanked Households Do Not Have Accounts, by HH Income, 2013
      • Demographic analysis: race/ethnicity
        • Table Main Reason Why Unbanked Households Do Not Have Accounts, by Race/Ethnicity, 2013
      • Demographic analysis: Nativity and Spanish-only spoken in home
        • Table Main Reason Why Unbanked Households Do Not Have Accounts: U.S.-born vs. Foreign-Born Hispanic, 2013
      • Degree of bank distrust on the rise
        • Table Comfort Trusting Money to a Bank: Unbanked vs. All, 2008-2015
        • Table Comfort Trusting Money to a Bank: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked: All, 18-34s, Hispanics, Spanish-Speaking Hispanics, and Foreign-Born Hispanics, 2015
    • Commercial banks gain share amid account usage declines
      • Percentage of banked consumers declines
      • But among banked, commercial banks fare better than savings banks and credit unions
      • Despite credit union competitiveness
        • Table Banked Adults: Percentage Banked by Type of Financial Institution, 2008-2015
      • Percentage of Hispanic unbanked remains stable; commercial banks gain share
        • Table Banked Hispanic Adults: Percentage Banked by Type of Financial Institution, 2008-2015
      • 18-34s take similar path
        • Table Banked 18-34s: Percentage Banked by Type of Financial Institution, 2008-2015
      • Why not go with a large, branch-based bank?
        • Table Reasons for Not Having a Checking Account at a Large Bank with Many Physical Branches, by Age, 2015
    • Fee and expense trends
      • Overdrafts still big business
      • Consumer advocates argue for more regulation
      • Post-regulation review raises concern
        • Table Distribution of Accounts and Gross Overdraft Fees By Overdraft Frequency: All, Opt-In and Opt-Out, 2014
        • Table Distribution of Accounts and Gross Overdraft Fees, by Overdraft Frequency and Monthly Debit Card Intensity, 2014
      • CFPB shows its teeth
      • On the horizon
    • Bank innovation
      • FDIC Model Safe Accounts
        • Table FDIC Model Safe Accounts: Core Features/Fees & Auxiliary Services and Fees, 2013
      • Small-dollar credit
      • Leadership: Key Basic Line of Credit
        • Table Key Basic Line of Credit: Characteristics, 2012-2014
        • Table Key Basic Line of Credit: Revenue Analysis, 2014
      • Bank accounts
        • Table Citibank Access Account: Customer Demographics, 2014
        • Table Town & Country Bank: Checking Account Options, 2015
  • The Retailer Connection: Trends & Innovation
    • Setting the stage: demographic reach and customer need
      • In-store retail bank branches fall by 13% in four years
      • Filling a money order void?
    • Retailers an AFS stronghold
      • Check cashing
        • Table Check Casher Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Demographic, 2013
        • Table Check Casher Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Most Common Location, 2013
      • Money orders used by two-thirds of underbanked
        • Table Money Order Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Demographic, 2013
        • Table Money Order Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Most Common Location, 2013
        • Table Money Order Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Most Common Location and U.S. Born/Foreign Born, 2013
    • Supermarket, discount and club stores
      • Tremendous demographic reach
      • Significant unbanked/underbanked sweet spots
        • Table Adults Shopping at Major Supermarket/Discount/Club Store Brands: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, by Brand, 2015
        • Table Adults Shopping at Major Supermarket/Discount/Club Store Brands: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked Share, by Brand, 2015
      • Remittance users skew to retail players that don't offer the service
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Supermarket/Discount/Club Store Brands: Share of Those Who Use Remittances, by Brand, 2015
      • Prepaid cards should be a foregone conclusion . . . but are they?
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Supermarket/Discount/Club Store Brands: Share of Those Who Have Reloadable Prepaid Cards, by Brand, 2015
      • Spanish speakers up to a quarter of shoppers
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Supermarket/Discount/Club Store Brands: Share by Race/Ethnicity and Spanish-Speaking Hispanics, by Brand, 2015
      • Foreign-born customers
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Supermarket/Discount/Club Store Brands: Share among Hispanic Foreign Born, by Brand, 2015
      • Leadership: Kroger
    • Convenience stores and drug stores
      • Table Adults Shopping at Major Convenience Store/Drug Store Brands: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked Share, by Brand, 2015
      • Prepaid card usage and remittances
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Convenience Store/Drug Store Brands: Share of Those Who Have Prepaid Cards and Use Remittances, by Brand, 2015
      • Crafting multi-ethnic marketing messages
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Convenience Store/Drug Store Brands: Share by Race/Ethnicity and Spanish-Speaking Hispanics, by Brand, 2015
      • Foreign-born customers
        • Table Unbanked Shoppers at Major Convenience Store/Drug Store Brands: Share among Foreign Born, by Brand, 2015
      • Leadership: 7-Eleven
  • Remittances & Payday Lending: Trends & Innovation
    • The market
      • Table U.S. International Remittances: Top 10 Recipient Countries, 2014
      • Unbanked and underbanked remitters
        • Table Remittance Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Demographic, 2013
      • Domestic and international money transfer trending
        • Table U.S. Adult Money Transferors: Domestic and International, 2008-2015
      • Remittance retail channels
        • Table Remittance Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Most Common Location, 2013
        • Table U.S. Adult International Money Transferors: Methods Used in Past 12 Months, 2010-2015
      • Leadership: Xoom
    • Payday and pawn loans
      • Usage among unbanked and underbanked
        • Table Payday Loan Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Demographic, 2013
        • Table Pawn Loan Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Demographic, 2013
      • A dimmer future ahead
      • Debt trap, begone?
      • But where and how will these borrowers access the money they need?
  • Reloadable Prepaid Accounts: Trends and Innovation
    • Setting the stage: changing the game
      • The market
        • Table Prepaid Card Usage Penetration: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, 2012-2015
        • Table Reloadable and Non-Reloadable Prepaid Card Usage Penetration: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, 2015
        • Table Prepaid Card Use in Past 12 Months: Fully Banked, Underbanked and Unbanked, 2014
        • Table Reloadable Prepaid Card Usage Penetration: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, by Demographic, 2015
        • Table Reloadable Prepaid Card Household Usage: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, by Demographic, 2013
    • Usage and reasons for use
      • Using like a checking account
      • Meeting financial transaction needs
        • Table Prepaid Card Use & Main Reason Why Household Used: Unbanked vs. Underbanked, 2013
      • Overdraft management
      • Top cards
        • Table Reloadable Prepaid Card Usage: Banked vs. Unbanked, by Brand, 2015
    • Regulatory checkup
      • CFPB analysis and impact
        • Table Prepaid Account Agreements: Overdraft Service, Negative Fee Balance, Insurance, Fee Disclosure and Limited Liability Analysis, 2014
      • Leadership: Bluebird
        • Table American Express Bluebird: Fees and Characteristics, 2013-2015
  • The Mobile Connection: Trends and Innovation
    • Introduction
    • Setting the stage: unbanked but connected
      • Who's got a smartphone?
        • Table Cell Phone and Smartphone Usage: Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, 2012-2015
        • Table Smartphone Usage: Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked, by Demographic, 2015
        • Table Internet Usage at Home: Any, Mobile Phone, Desktop Computer: All vs. Unbanked, 2012-2015
    • Mobile banking engagement
      • Underbanked engaged with mobile banking—and more so than fully banked
        • Table Mobile Banking Methods Used in Past 12 Months: Fully Banked and Underbanked, 2014
      • Banking app usage: demographics
        • Table Banked, Unbanked and Institution Unbanked Who Have Used Banking/Finance App in Past 30 Days: All, 18-34s and Hispanics, 2015
  • Appendix
    • Methodology
      • Consumer survey methodology
    • Report table interpretation
      • Color coding
      • Indexing
    • Terms and definitions
      • Unbanked and underbanked
      • Other terms and definitions

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