Why Bank Deserts are affecting urban communities

The Capital City Bank.
Photo submitted by Devin Harrison.

Geographically isolated areas or banks deserts are not necessarily isolated from the world, however, urban communities are often neglected by banks.

Bank deserts are an area with a radius of 10-miles with inadequate banking services.  

“Approximately 20% of U.S. household use alternative financial services for transactions that can typically be performed at a far lower cost by the traditional, formal banking system,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from their research article, “Banking the Unbanked: Bank Deserts in the United States”.

“1 in 13 households do not use a bank, which translates to 9.6 million households in the U.S. The Office of the Inspector General for the US Postal Service found that 20% of the households are underserved and 8% are completely unbanked,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The scarcity of banks in economically marginalized communities are purposely indicative towards Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and other people of color. However, for people of color to combat this issue and are interested in building their financial portfolio, there are other options to utilize.

Operation Hope is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to help educate and mobilize those interested in financial literacy.  Operation Hope is located in 24 states and their mission is to "disrupt poverty and empower inclusion for low and moderate-income youth and adults” (according to their homepage operationhope.org).

“In Georgia, we’ve established a partnership with Operation Hope to help minorities become financially literate and have access to bank resources,” said Mya Lewis, a banker at Regions Bank.

According to Operation Hope’s mission statement, CEO of Operation Hope, John Hope Bryant, said their mission is to be inclusive and give users the tools to assist them in their financial independence.

“Our focus is financial dignity and inclusion.  We equip young people and adults with the financial tools and education to secure a better future – coaching them through their personal aspirations and life's challenges, and facilitating their journey to financial independence," said Bryant.

Corporate banks are now looking for young professionals to come into the workplace and develop tactical solutions to these problems. These young interns at Bank of America are optimistic about creating innovative projects to solve this problem.

"We thought creating an interactive QR code that lead customers to hands-on banking information on an interactive mural downtown, would be a great idea to energize the community and generate buzz on social media," said David Cosentino, an intern at Bank of America.

"Developing more of a community feel to the interactive mural is a great idea to mobilize urban communities.  Getting after-school programs involved and local artist will show the authenticity in getting more people in these urban communities financially literate," said Raxell Leiton an intern at Bank of America.

"It's heartbreaking to know that no one really cares about these low-income communities.  However, coming up with strategic strategies has been a ton of fun and I hope that these strategies are implemented," said Jennifer Pham an intern at Bank of America.

Websites such as MagnifyMoney is a financial tool to help users budget and finance smart. MagnifyMoney is a new website that provides consumers with a simple, unbiased way to comparison-shop for financial products. It is a concentration of banks and credit unions in countries throughout the United States.