Underbanked Inspire a Wealth of Services

Underbanked Inspire a Wealth of Services By Jennifer Tescher of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI)

Who has the best, most innovative financial product aimed at the underbanked?

An array of cutting-edge examples will be on display in June at the sixth annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in New Orleans. Organized by the Center for Financial Services Innovation and American Banker, the conference brings together the best of the underbanked financial services industry. This year, our partners at Core Innovation Capital put out a call for innovative financial services products for the unbanked and underbanked in the U.S., promising finalists a spot on the conference stage to demonstrate their products live.

The audience will vote, “American Idol”-style, for the winner, who will receive a cash prize of $10,000.

Dozens of ideas were submitted. Each of the four finalists — PayNearMe, GoalMine, FIS, and FlexWage — offers a solution for a particular underserved consumer pain point.

FlexWage works with employers to give workers access to a payroll card with a linked salary-advance feature.

Through its WageBank product, the company makes available wages that have been earned but not yet paid. Customers are charged a flat convenience fee for the “predisbursement” of earned wages. There is no loan and nothing to repay. Saving and investing are especially challenging for the underserved. Most mutual funds require a minimum initial investment of $2,500, and even many basic savings accounts have high minimum balance requirements.

Jennifer Tescher is the president and chief executive of the Center for Financial Services Innovation.