At the recent FDIC conference, “Fintech: A Bridge to Economic Inclusion,” FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams remarked that while the proportion of U.S. households that were banked in 2019 was 94.6 percent, 7 million households still reported no banking relationship. She also noted that “the rates for Black and Hispanic households who do not have a checking or savings account at a bank remain substantially higher than the overall ‘unbanked’ rate.” Referencing her personal challenges in establishing credit as a young immigrant to the United States 30 years ago, McWilliams discussed technology’s role in creating and facilitating a more inclusive financial system through the FDIC’s multi-pronged, novel approach to tackle the issue of financial inclusion, which includes:
- looking at financial innovations in the private sector;
- taking steps, including hosting tech sprints, to identify solutions;
- coordinating with Minority Depository Institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions; and
- conducting targeted public awareness campaigns on the importance of having a banking relationship.
McWilliams concluded her remarks by explaining that “[a]lthough the FDIC has limited ability to address directly the issue of unbanked Americans, there are things that we can do – and which we are doing – to foster innovation across all banks and to reduce the regulatory cost of and barriers to innovation.”