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Money Smart News - January 2004

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FDIC Conference: Tapping the Unbanked Market

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Message from the Chairman
Photo: Chairman Donald PowellThe FDIC reached another important milestone recently when the 100,000th copy of the Money Smart curriculum was sent to the New Asia Bank in Chicago. The bank plans to teach Money Smart classes in both Korean and Chinese in the New Year.

This accomplishment fits in well with this issue of Money Smart News, which focuses on outreach to the unbanked or underbanked. Recently the FDIC held a conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, entitled: “Tapping the Unbanked Market: Helping People Enter the Financial Mainstream.” This event was an important first step in helping the industry reach out to an estimated 10 million American households that are "unbanked" or "underbanked"; they do not have accounts at banks and other mainstream financial institutions. As a result, these cash consumers – many of whom are recent immigrants -- pay excessive fees for basic financial services, are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders, or have difficulties buying a home or otherwise acquiring assets.

These unbanked and underbanked consumers are the reason the FDIC introduced the Money Smart curriculum two and a half years ago. They are the reason we translated Money Smart into Spanish, Chinese, and Korean. A Vietnamese version will be rolled out in February 2004.

A recently completed survey shows that at the end of 2002, more than 100,000 students had received instruction from the Money Smart curriculum. I feel certain that the 2003 end of year survey will show that Money Smart continued to reach the communities that need it most in 2003.

The interest and feedback we have received on the Money Smart curriculum has been tremendous. Thanks to the help of organizations like yours, we are seeing, and hearing from, people who have been able to enter the financial mainstream and begin to develop more secure financial futures for themselves and their families. We are hearing from bankers that offering outreach and education isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do for the growth of their business.

There are many ways financial institutions can attract and retain customers from the unbanked population. Presenters at our Washington conference discussed the issues and provided examples of practical solutions, which are summarized in this issue of Money Smart News. A full transcript from the conference and a 10-minute video produced for the conference, called "A New Opportunity: The Unbanked" will be available shortly. We will notify newsletter subscribers via e-mail with a link that will enable you to download the transcript and order the video free of charge.

Last year was a banner year for Money Smart, and with your help I look forward to communicating continued success of the program in 2004.

Last Updated 01/15/2004

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