by Bob Sullivan
Sabino Fuentes-Sanchez hid $25,000 all around his house because he didn’t trust banks. Lasonia Christon receives her Walmart salary on a pre-paid debit card. Kim James was homeless for most of the past decade in part because she had no place to save money.
There are plenty of reasons people still live all-cash lives, but the sheer number who do it might surprise you. At a time when the majority of Americans use online banking, and some even deposit checks using their cellphone cameras, roughly eight percent of America’s 115 million households don’t have a checking or savings account, according to census data compiled by the FDIC.
The numbers are far higher among minorities: More than 20 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics are essentially left out of the American banking system.
Frozen in the cash-only past, they face myriad “kick-them-while-they-are-down” situations where getting money costs money. Banks typically charge $6 to cash checks. Want to secure an apartment? Fee-based money orders are the only option. Without credit cards, they must turn to triple-digit interest rate payday loans for emergencies.
Who are the unbanked? Many are poor – 56 percent earn less than $15,000 annually.