The underserved, underbanked, and unbanked population is large and diverse: At present just over one in four Americans fall into this category. Because of the underbanked market’s clout, alternative financial providers are stepping up to provide products and services expressly tailored to meet the needs of this increasingly influential group. Prepaid accounts, coupled with mobile access, FDIC insurance, and bill pay, are one of the better ways that alternative providers are serving high‐tech, underserved consumers. The report ranks 13 prepaid providers on their underbanked consumer offerings and examines five second‐chance providers. This report not only looks at the financial behaviors and habits of this highly mobile, younger group of consumers but also examines its preferences for omnichannel banking interactions, and makes recommendations for best practices.

Primary Questions:

  • How many Americans are underbanked and unbanked, and what is their general profile?
  • What devices (e.g., computers, laptops, tablets, feature phones, or smartphones) do the underbanked favor for various transactions?
  • Do underbanked customers prefer the branch, ATM, call center, or online or mobile banking for different financial actvities?
  • What payment methods — debit, checks, prepaid, etc. — do the underbanked use most?
  • What are the best prepaid products on the market?
  • What are the best pracices for serving the underbanked?

Companies Mentioned:

American Express City Bank Texas Fifth Third JPMorgan Chase
Apple Commonwealth One FCU Google NetSpend
BB&T CVS/pharmacy Green Dot Office Depot
BBVA Compass Duane Reade Family Dollar H&R Block PNC
Bill Me Later FDIC Heritage Community CU Regions
Sheetz Super Dollar T-Mobile U.S. Bank
Visa Walgreens Walmart Wells Fargo
Western Union Wipit    


  • A random-sample panel of 3,213 respondents in an October 2013 online survey.
  • A random-sample panel of 5,641respondents in an March 2013 online survey.
  • A random-sample panel of 3,285 respondents in an July 2013 online survey.
  • A random-sample panel of 3,509 respondents in an November 2013 online survey.