Financial Services for the Poor from the Gates Foundation
The behavior of banks is despicable enough when they are merely trying to trick educated, financially secure people out of their money. Banks charged $38.5 billion in fees last year according to the Financial Times. But that behavior, toward the poor, by banks (paying millions to hundreds of executives for, I guess, getting congress to send the companies billions) is immoral.
The Gates Foundation has decided to go into improving financial services for the poor. The are supporting micro-credit but also micro finance. Saving is key for poor people to get and stay out of poverty. Most already save money informally but want better, safer options. Setting aside money in a safe place will allow poor people to weather setbacks, build assets and financial security, and invest in opportunities for the next generation. Formal savings accounts also help them keep more of what they earn and easily access their money when they need it.
The poor need better banking options in poor countries. But the poor need better banking options in at least one rich country (the only one I know is the USA and banks in the USA provide lousy options for the poor). Credit Unions are much more likely to actually try and provide value to customers. Unfortunately banks in the USA seem to operate on the principle that customer are suckers that exist to pay for Porches for the children of bank executives.
Related: FDIC Study of Bank Overdraft Fees – Microfinancing Entrepreneurs – Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover Card – 10 Things Your Bank Won’t Tell You