Congresswoman Nikema Williams Leads Protection for Underbanked Americans to Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell

Mar 05, 2024
Press

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, led a bipartisan letter to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressing concern about a proposed regulation that could jeopardize access to critical bank accounts for millions of unbanked and underbanked people. A proposed Federal Reserve Board rule could possibly make Bank On-certified accounts too costly for banks to offer their customers. Bank On-certified accounts are essential financial tools for low- and moderate-income (LMI) consumers, with low or zero-fee accounts, no overdraft fees, and the ability to pay bills online. 

The letter was co-led by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) and signed by 36 other members of Congress. 

The members wrote in part:

“Over the past several years, as a result of an intense and coordinated effort among industry and other coalition partners, the number of Bank On-certified accounts has exploded, from around 40 accounts in late 2019 to nearly 450 today, with dozens more in the approval queue. Banks of all sizes and across branches in all 50 states offer consumers access to safe, affordable accounts – with Bank On accounts accessible to 95.5% of LMI households as of 2022. Notably, in its most recent National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, t in he FDIC reported that the rate of unbanked households dropped to 4.5%, the lowest level since the survey began – with approximately 5 million households entering the banking system between 2019 and 2021 alone.”

The members continued: 

“Banks and credit unions offering Bank On-certified accounts, in partnership with trusted community-based organizations and local governments, provide consumers with an essential onramp to mainstream financial markets. These accounts have a demonstrated track record of reaching unbanked and underbanked communities – and are the starting point for the ongoing work of true financial inclusion and aid in a wider mission of closing the racial wealth gap.”

The letter is supported by the American Bankers Association. 

Click here for the text of the letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Powell. 

CONTACT: PressGA05@mail.house.gov 

Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District on the exclusive Financial Services Committee. She is a champion of voting rights and builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams is committed to closing the racial wealth gap and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of your ZIP code or bank account.

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