Home » Economy »Sunday Poll » Currently Reading:

Readers Not Among The Unbanked

February 19, 2014 Economy, Sunday Poll 2 Comments

The number of unbanked citizens in St. Louis is high, but according to the unscientific poll last week readers of this blog aren’t among them:

Q: Not everyone uses all available financial tools, which of the following do you use? (check all that apply)

  1. Debit card(s) 56 [14.58%]
  2. Retirement account through employer 43 [11.2%]
  3. Credit card(s) paid each month 43 [11.2%]
  4. Checking account at brick & mortar bank 42 [10.94%]
  5. Investment portfolio 39 [10.16%]
  6. Checking account online 38 [9.9%]
  7. Savings account online 35 [9.11%]
  8. Savings account at brick & mortar bank 28 [7.29%]
  9. Savings account at brick & mortar credit union 20 [5.21%]
  10. Credit card(s) with a balance each month 20 [5.21%]
  11. Checking account at brick & mortar credit union 18 [4.69%]
  12. Other: 2 [0.52%]
    • dwolla (for online payments)
    • checking with interest at credit union
  13. None: no checking, savings, debit, credit, portfolio 0 [0%]

I was a little surprised to see online checking/saving ranked higher than credit unions. However, we just recently opened an online savings account separate from our credit union checking & savings accounts, it’s very user friendly. We both had bank accounts for years but a few years ago I switched to a credit union. I never ordered physical checks since bills can be paid online, with debit card, or via bill pay online. I never liked paper checks — all that processing:

On a normal day, about $6 billion was literally up in the air as checks flew to their destination. That amount grew to $47 billion after the FAA grounded planes in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

That spurred passage of the Check 21 Act, which allowed banks to use electronic images of checks instead of paper. (Business Insider)

But to the unbanked out there financial life isn’t as easy.  Apparently many have their income, often social security, sent to check cashing places. They go in monthly to get their money in cash, less enormous fees. Then they end up buying money orders to pay bills. Meager incomes made even worse by the costs of being unbanked.  Prior experience with bank overdraft fees and closed bank accounts have left many thinking cash is their only option. Businesses like check cashing places, tax refund lenders, title lenders, etc prey on the less financially literate in our community.

Here’s more on who is unbanked:

Among common demographics (income, education, age, race and family structure), several vulnerable groups emerged:

  • Households with incomes less than $15,000 were unbanked at a rate of 31.4 percent.
  • African-Americans were unbanked at a rate of 26.5 percent.
  • Households headed by single mothers had unbanked rates of approximately 23.5 percent.
  • Individuals with no high school degree lacked transactions accounts at a rate of 24.5 percent.

A comparison of the at-risk groups with the District average (9.5 percent) is stark: They were two to three times more likely to be unbanked. (Federal Reserve of St. Louis

This problem is a community problem. I don’t know the solution for reducing the number of unbanked in St. Louis, but organizations like Justin PETERSEN are working on the problem.

— Steve Patterson

  • JZ71

    One option that Elizabeth Warren and others have suggested is to allow the Post Office to offer many of the services that check-cashing companies offer – seems like a win-win to me: http://www.npr.org/2014/02/07/272652648/post-office-could-rack-up-billions-by-offering-money-services . . And the challenge many poor people face with online banking is simple – no line. Internet service ain’t free, nor are the devices needed to access the internet, so it remains a lower priority than other utilities like electricity, gas and water – why should this be a surprise? The other challenge is distrust of the government, either for one’s immigration status or for one’s occupation – if you’re working in a cash-only business, legal or illegal, banks tend to ask a lot of questions you really don’t want to answer . . . .

  • Suzanne

    Local Bank On coalitions across the nation have been working to bring together government leadership, community groups, and financial institutions to bring safe, affordable financial products and services to unbanked people. You can learn more about starting a local bank On at joinbankon.org, as well as about the new national effort at http://cfed.org/blog/inclusiveeconomy/new_national_effort_to_help_unbanked_and_underbanked_adults_bank_on_20/.

Comment on this Article:


Check back Sunday at 8am for a new poll.



Thanks to whomever cleared the snow from the sidewalk on the south side of Washington Ave btwn Cardinal & Compton! ... See MoreSee Less

5 hours ago  ·  

Urban Review STL updated their cover photo. ... See MoreSee Less

7 hours ago  ·  

Hall at top of stairs, renovated 3010 Apartment, 58 units for the #homeless ... See MoreSee Less

7 hours ago  ·  

Outdated relic or a beloved facility that should've been kept? ... See MoreSee Less

February 27, 1999 - 16 years-ago today, the Arena on Oakland Avenue was imploded. Thousands of people gathered hours before 5:45 p.m., to watch the former home of the St. Louis Blues reduced to rubble. The stock market crash of 1929 ruined the dreams of Col. Ben Brinkman, founding father of The Arena. Brinkman built The Arena at 5700 Oakland Avenue, for $1.5 million as a livestock exhibition hall next door to his other big-name property, the Highlands amusement park. The Arena opened in October 1929, just before the stock-market crash that helped bring on the Great Depression. There were few bookings at the facility, & within two years, The Arena had to sell off chairs to satisfy a debt of $1,681. It's first event was The St. Louis National Horse Show. Starting after the Civil War, it was held in Fairground's Park until moving to this new venue, where it would remain an annual event until 1953. Most of us only knew him as an elderly man, but in his youth, Gussie Busch was a frequent competitor, jumping his champion Olympic mare, Miss Budweiser, over the traces. The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra played each evening before the competition events, featuring a skinny, unknown singer named Frank Sinatra. The national cattle livestock show was next for the brand-new Arena in 1929, & this too, would be an annual event. Over the course of 70 years, the Arena would host a wide range of events, & many recall seeing the circus, Lone Ranger & Tonto, Cisco Kid, or the Three Stooges there. It would be impossible for me to list all that appeared there, but for most of my generation, it was where you saw Blues hockey, Steamers soccer, & rock concerts. It's believed over 500 concerts were held there, with over half of them sponsored by local radio station, KSHE. In an effort to keep the Blues from moving to Saskatoon, Mayor Vince Schoemehl had the City buy the Arena in 1986 & after the team moved to their new home downtown in 1994, the City found themselves paying a $50,000 a month mortgage on an empty building. Mayor Clarence Harmon and the Board of Aldermen decided to demolish it, & paid Spirtas Wrecking Co. $694,000 to do the deed. It took less than 15 seconds for the 133 lbs. of dynamite to turn the once-great exhibition hall into a pile of scrap. But like the recently demolished Admiral, they can tear it down, but they can't destroy our memories.

11 hours ago  ·  


Recent Comments



National Partner




Transportation for America Coalition