Cashless leaves unbanked behind, but it doesn’t have to


While there are many pros in moving toward a cashless society, the shift raises the question: Where does this leave the 55 million Americans who are unbanked or underbanked and rely on cash for daily essentials?

Access to digital payment solutions is now a necessity as society further settles into a remote and contactless norm.

In a recent study conducted by VSoft, 70% of small businesses agreed that offering contactless payment options is now a bigger priority due to COVID-19. Furthermore, in a separate study conducted by VSoft at the beginning of the pandemic, 36% of individuals said that they did not have a bank account and were concerned with how they would cash their check.

Many are in immediate need of the potential second stimulus payment and have little time to wait for physical checks. The solution ultimately lies with community banks and credit unions that serve these businesses and individuals — as well as fintech companies that are championing new payment innovations.

In May, the IRS set a deadline for individuals to open bank accounts to receive stimulus payments via direct deposit. Luckily, a lot of community banks and credit unions offer the ability to open a checking or share draft account remotely at little or no cost. Not only did this enable individuals to receive quicker access to emergency funds, it also enabled them to deposit these checks without fees as well as gain access to credit and attainable methods to increase their savings.

Now, smaller financial institutions and fintechs need to work together to continue closing the unbanked gap through expanded digital banking capabilities. Access to digital wallets, faster payments and even payroll options will continue to be central to ensuring financial inclusion.

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