9/18/2019

Don't Say Unbanked; Say Differently Banked

"America's large population of unbanked is often presented as a failure of its banking system. If banks aren't willing to serve the poor, say the critics, then public alternatives such as postal banks, universal accounts at the Federal Reserve (i.e., FedAccounts), or central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) may be necessary.

But if Walmart's MoneyCard is any indication, many of America's unbanked aren't unbanked — they are differently banked. Instead of accessing banking services via traditional accounts, these people are connecting to it by prepaid credit cards, otherwise known as general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards. Walmart's MoneyCard is one of the most well-known offerings. But even governments are sponsoring prepaid debit card programs, the Federal government's DirectExpress card being the best example."