FINANCIAL EDUCATION AND AFFORDABLE SMALL-DOLLAR FINANCIAL PRODUCTS FOR UNDERSERVED AND UNBANKED
- Community banks offer many affordable loan and deposit products and services to their customers.
- ICBA supports new and innovative products and services for existing and potential customers. Guidelines developed for loan products and services for underserved and unbanked individuals should be easily understood by bankers and flexible enough to be adaptable to various markets and operations.
- To expand the availability of affordable products for consumers, it is important to identify barriers to their use, including regulatory and statutory obstacles that may discourage development of these products. Solutions should be made on an interagency basis.
- ICBA supports effective and voluntary financial education. Increasing financial literacy protects consumers, fosters financial stability and benefits individuals, underserved communities, and our nation as a whole.
- ICBA supports community bank’s development and use of technology to more effectively and efficiently provide access to financial services and education.
Affordable Products. Many community banks offer various affordable loan and deposit products and services to their customers. ICBA welcomes opportunities to expand ways to serve new, existing and potential customers, but guidelines must be simple, easily understood by bankers and examiners and flexible enough to allow individual community banks to adapt them to their own market and operations. Overly proscriptive requirements could add to burdens and costs and have the unintended consequence of discouraging these types of products. Caps on Interest and Fees. Consumer regulations have traditionally focused on disclosure of terms, not outright ceilings or limits on interest and fees. This approach gives consumers the information they need to make informed decisions about whether a product meets their needs. Disclosures are most effective when consumers have the requisite knowledge to understand their choices.
Financial Literacy. Managing money wisely and making effective financial decisions is critical to excelling in life and enjoying a secure financial future. Moreover, millions of Americans do not have a relationship with a depository institution because they do not understand the system. Community banks engage in a wide range of financial education efforts, many in conjunction with local schools and civic groups and promote financial literacy programs for all consumers, especially those programs that help the underserved, disadvantaged and emerging markets. ICBA also informs the media and the public about what community banks are doing to promote financial education and help people better understand their financial choices. Whether showing students how to manage credit responsibly, helping a family understand the home buying process or teaching foreign-born residents the benefits of having a checking account, financial literacy programs build a stronger future for all.
Technology. ICBA supports improving the financial health of underserved and unbanked individuals. Individuals with little or no relationship with a bank may struggle to manage their funds effectively and to save, prepare, or borrow for emergencies. Technology can play a role in raising awareness among such individuals of available products and services and providing access to them.