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Martin FCU Higher bank fees boost unbanked numbers
ORLANDO, Fla. (7/13/11)--Higher bank fees generated by financial reform regulations may end up increasing the "unbanked" population, according to Orlando, Fla.-based Martin FCU and others interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel (July 11). Florida's economy has about $9 billion in household wealth that is unbanked money, including about $2 billion held by the state's rapidly increasing Hispanic population. Martin FCU makes it a point each Monday to visit the Mexican Consulate in west Orlando to court immigrants as they secure documents to make a new life in the U.S. Many are unbanked. The credit union lets Hispanics know it has accounts available that are safe for them and their money, Nine Fayad, marketing specialist at the $128 million asset credit union, told the Sentinel. Fayad noted that banks facing federal financial reforms will raise fees to recoup revenue lost as a result of some of the new provisions. The reforms are affecting everyone in banking, she said, The first question everyone asks, she said, is what the fees will be. Recouping losses by raising customer account fees and minimum balances will create more barriers for the nation's unbanked, said Stanley Smith, a banking and finance professor at University of Central Florida. Other sources interviewed said the higher fees would force more back to the "quick-cash" industry to check cashers, payday-advance lenders, wire-transfer services and pawn shops. The article pointed out that "credit unions--which typically charge lower fees than big banks--are beginning to offer products such as money-transfer services" and short-term alternatives to payday loans and that several hundred credit unions offer the services. However, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) told the newspaper that credit unions are proceeding cautiously by balancing their fees so that they pay for the product or service delivered without being too high. Credit unions also offer prepaid check cards, with low fees and no overdraft fees, said the article.
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