Improving Access to Financial Services
The goal of this work is to improve access to and the infrastructure for innovative financial products and services for low-income people.
In the United States, an estimated 9 million households do not have a savings or a checking account while another 21 million households have bank accounts but rely on costly alternative financial service providers such as payday lenders or check-cashing outlets. In developing countries, approximately 72 percent of adults lack access to the formal financial system.
Mainstream financial markets fail to meet the needs of poor and marginalized populations for three reasons: the financial products and services offered typically are inappropriate for low-income households; the infrastructure or delivery system is unresponsive to their needs; and the policies and regulatory system are poorly designed and implemented.
What We're Doing Globally
Our work focuses on helping financial institutions serve poor households by:
- Helping microfinance institutions to develop social performance management (SPM) systems that improve their ability to serve poor and low-income people
- Strengthening the capacity of financial institutions to use SPM systems
- Identifying new ways to reach very poor households
What We're Doing in the United States
Improving access to affordable and responsive financial products and services is an important step to help poor and low-income households build and maintain assets.
- Efforts to increase access to quality financial services by funding research to test innovative products that meet the needs of poor households
- Building an infrastructure to make these products and services widely available
- Funding advocacy for supportive policy and regulation
Learn more about how our strategies and approaches shape our grant making.
From the Newsroom
- Payday Loans Pose Risks for Consumers, Bureau Finds A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau looks at how consumers are affected by short-term, high-cost credit
- Ford Foundation Co-Founds Better Than Cash Alliance Joins foundations, development organizations and leading corporations to accelerate shift to electronic payments: empowering people one transaction at a time
What We're Following
- Payday Loans and Deposit Advance Products A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau analyzes the long-term use of payday loans and deposit advance products, and finds that they pose risks for a sizable segment of consumers who use them
- Underbanked Market Sizing Study Center for Financial Services Innovation and Core Innovation Capital illustrate opportunities for institutions to develop high-quality, affordable financial solutions
- Checking out: How Big Banks are Pushing Consumers Out of Basic Bank Accounts California Reinvestment Coalition reports on the devastating impact of increasing costs of basic banking products, compromising the economic security and stability of U.S. households