Union Bank Earns Praise for Move to Serve ‘Unbanked Customers’

By EGP Staff Report

Some low- to moderate-income consumers who don’t use conventional bank accounts because they are “too expensive or too confusing,” could find a new account being offered by Union Bank to be the answer to their banking needs, according to banking policy experts at the Greenlining Institute, a nonprofit group that says its mission is to “close the growing racial wealth gap.”

Greenling is applauding Union Bank’s creation of the “Access Account,” which does not offer checks or online bill pay, but does provide ATM access, online and mobile banking, direct deposit, and discounted money orders, with no overdraft fees.

“We’ve long been concerned about the 34 million U.S. households – disproportionately people of color – who are unbanked or underbanked, and who often end up paying much higher fees at check cashing stores or other alternative services,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Sasha Werblin. “Most of the unbanked are low and moderate income families,” he noted, adding that Greenlining and other community groups have been urging banks meet the needs of this population.

“We’re glad Union Bank has moved closer toward meeting the needs of these families, and expect other banks to do the same.”

The Access Account can be opened with $25, and will stay open as long as the balance stays above $0, according to Greenling.

“This new account won’t work for everyone, but we think it will be useful for a meaningful number, including customers who have trouble maintaining a high minimum balance,” Werblin said.

The Access Account is available in California, Oregon and Washington.

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June 20, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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