New ABA Report Examines Americans’ Access to Banking Services

An estimated 124.2 million households were considered “banked” in 2019, with at least one member having a checking or savings account, according to FDIC figures that were highlighted in a new report from the American Bankers Association today on access to the banking system. Banking services are widely available to Americans, the report found, with the average person living within commuting distance of 25 branch locations.

Recent research suggests that consumers are increasingly turning toward mobile channels to access financial services. Prior to the pandemic, 34% of American households used mobile channels as their primary channel to access their bank accounts. COVID-19 caused a further uptick in preference for mobile banking options: 97% of banks reported an acceleration in mobile adoption among their customers as a result.

Findings from a recent ABA/Morning Consult survey highlighted the important role these digital services play when it comes to banking system access—84% of Americans agreed that innovation and technology and innovation improvements by banks are making it easier for them to access financial services, and 99% rated their bank’s online or mobile experience as “good,” “very good” or “excellent.” Additionally, 91% of Americans agreed that their overall access to banking services was good, very good or excellent.

According to the FDIC, approximately 7.1 million U.S. households—or 5.4%—remain completely unbanked. While that figure represents the lowest level of unbanked households since 2009, banks continue to actively promote financial inclusion, including through offering Bank On certified accounts—something ABA has urged its member banks to do. As of May 2021, 88 financial institutions with more than 32,000 branches nationwide were offering Bank On certified accounts, which offer features including low costs, online bill pay capabilities, no overdraft fees and certain transaction capabilities.

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