According to the FDIC, 8.4 million U.S. households lacked a bank account as of 2017, putting America behind other rich countries. Minorities and the young are heavily overrepresented among the unbanked, so addressing this problem is a matter of both financial inclusion and equal opportunity. Fortunately, the FDIC can use its authority over an obscure banking charter to help, and it recently proposed to do just that. But if it goes ahead, it can expect stiff opposition from industry incumbents and their champions in Congress.
Many blame the unbanked problem on the recent decline in the number of U.S. banks. But that decline has been more than offset by the 24 percent growth of bank branch networks since 1995. Because the share of unbanked households is also often higher in urban areas,Read More »