COVID-19

Those without bank accounts face special challenges during a pandemic

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Apr 28, 2020
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Mastercard is expanding its program, pledging to get a billion unbanked people and 50 million unbanked very small businesses into the formal financial system within five years. Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images
COVID-19

Those without bank accounts face special challenges during a pandemic

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Apr 28, 2020
Mastercard is expanding its program, pledging to get a billion unbanked people and 50 million unbanked very small businesses into the formal financial system within five years. Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images
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More than 84 million Americans were unbanked or underbanked in 2017, according to the latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation survey, meaning they either don’t have a relationship with a bank or they rely on alternative financial services like check cashers and payday lenders for everyday banking needs.

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the challenges of not having access to a bank account, which can complicate everything from buying household essentials online to getting — and cashing — your government stimulus check.

Mastercard has a plan to bring 1 billion people into the digital economy by 2025. The payment technology company also wants to sign up 50 million small and micro businesses for the technology needed to accept digital payments, with a focus on closing the gender gap in the digital economy by reaching 25 million women entrepreneurs.

Michael Froman, vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, spoke to “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio about the importance of banking access.

“One thing that is sometimes underestimated is how expensive it is to be poor, and the kinds of engagements and transactions that people who are financially vulnerable have to rely on to get access to their money,” Froman said.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

It’s still the question on everyone’s minds: What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The $600-a-week payments have ended, officially, as of July 31. For now, there is no additional federal pandemic unemployment assistance. House Democrats want to renew the $600 payments. Senate Republicans have proposed giving the unemployed 70% of their most recent salary by this October, when state unemployment offices have had time to reconfigure their computer systems to do those calculations. Until then, jobless workers would just get another $200. But, nothing has been signed into law yet.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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