Consumers, it seems, are deciding they can live without banks. At the time a grassroots campaign urged Americans to transfer their accounts from large national banks, government statistics show consumers were dropping out of banks altogether.
The survey, conducted every two years by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), shows that 28 percent of U.S. households either had no bank in 2011 or used minimal banking services.
According to the 2011 Survey, 821,000 more U.S. households are operating without a bank account since the first survey in 2009, representing a 0.6 percentage point increase. More than half of all unbanked households said they do not have an account because they believe they do not have enough money or that they do not need or want an account. In addition, the report shows that three in ten households nationally don't have a savings account.
"The results of the 2011 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households indicate that insured financial institutions have an important chance to grow their customer base by expanding opportunities that bring unbanked and underbanked individuals into mainstream banking" said FDIC acting chairman Martin J. Gruenberg.
One in 12 households has no account
The survey shows that 8.2 percent of U.S. households have no bank account. This represents one in 12 households in the nation, or nearly 10 million in total.
Approximately 17 million adults live in households with no bank account. More than 20 percent of U.S. households are considered underbanked, meaning they have minimal banking services. This represents one in five households, or 24 million households with 51 million adults.
The survey found that 29.3 percent of households do not have a savings account, while about 10 percent do not have a checking account. About two-thirds of households have both checking and savings accounts.
What do consumers use if they don't have a bank account? One-quarter of households have used at least one alternative financial service (AFS), such as non-bank check cashing or payday loans in the past year, and almost one in ten households have used two or more types of AFS products or services.
More people turning to alternative financial services
In all, 12 percent of households used an AFS in the past 30 days, including four in 10 unbanked and underbanked households.
FDIC is concerned by the numbers. While banking fees have proliferated in recent years, the agency says consumers tend to benefit if they have a relationship with a bank.
"There are many positives to establishing a relationship with an insured financial institution,” Gruenberg said. “Access to an account at a federally insured institution provides households with the opportunity to conduct basic financial transactions, build wealth, save for emergency and long-term security needs and access credit on fair and affordable terms."