The news: In 2021, the number of unbanked households in the US reached its lowest level since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) began conducting the biennial Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households.
Financial assistance was the key driver: The survey revealed that 4.5% (5.9 million) of US households didn’t have a checking or savings account in 2021. This percentage is the lowest number recorded since the survey first began in 2009.
The study found that one of the main drivers behind this percentage was citizens opening accounts to receive financial assistance during the pandemic.
The survey also found that 14% (18.7 million) of US households were considered underbanked in 2021.
More stats on the unbanked: The study also covered statistics on specific cohorts.
New methods of financial inclusion: Lockdown restrictions meant many financial institutions had to quickly transform their business models to serve their clients digitally. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) zeroed in on consumer protections that made banking more accessible.
The big takeaway: The latest data from the FDIC survey is good news, but it doesn’t mean financial institutions can ease up on their financial inclusion efforts. With the US on the brink of a recession, the unbanked and underbanked populations will swell again. Banks will need to demonstrate that these underserved groups are important members of the banking community at all times, not just in good times.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence’s Banking Innovation Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the banking industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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