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FDIC Advisory Committee to discuss services for America’s unbanked at Thursday meeting

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp ( FDIC ) Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion (ComE-IN) will meet on Thursday, May 16, 2013, to discuss the FDIC’s 2013 economic inclusion priorities. The meeting will feature a panel discussion on Safe Accounts and prepaid cards.

“One in four households in the United States is either unbanked or underbanked,” said FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg. “These households often rely on costly alternative financial services. One of our top priorities is to find ways to make safe and affordable transaction and savings products that offer a genuine account relationship with federally-insured financial institutions available to all consumers.”

Safe Accounts are checkless, card-based electronic accounts that only allow automated withdrawals, resulting in lower costs for customers. The FDIC conducted a pilot project in 2011 that suggested that opportunities exist for financial institutions to offer low-cost Safe Accounts to the unbanked and underbanked. Since then, a number of financial institutions have implemented programs to promote Safe Accounts among underserved communities. The ComE-IN will discuss these programs with bank representatives to provide insight into how to make Safe Accounts more widely available across the industry. The Committee will also explore whether bank-sold prepaid cards may be able to produce similar benefits.

Other economic inclusion priorities to be discussed at the meeting include household savings initiatives and potential FDIC-led research projects on promoting economic inclusion through mobile financial services.