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5 tech trends helping the unbanked access financial services

Mobile banking is way up. Online payment services are in. 

These are two of the findings in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s 2021 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, a biennial survey that measures the ways and degrees to which Americans access safe and affordable banking services. The agency partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to collect answers from more than 30,000 households in the U.S. in June 2021.

This year’s survey had a number of takeaways with implications for bank technology, including the prevalence of mobile banking as a primary form of account access, the patterns around usage of online payment services, and the technologies that potentially helped more people get banked or find alternatives to predatory services. Even as the national unbanked rate has fallen, there are persistent problems with access to banking among minorities — an issue that has technological implications not discussed in detail in the report.

“We’ve had nearly a decade of broad-based digitization of financial services and a mass adoption of smartphones,” said Sarah Morgenstern, a venture partner at Flourish, a venture firm that invests in startups focusing on financial health. “That has helped to drive down the cost and increase access to fairly priced financial products, especially for low and moderate income consumers.”

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