Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 10th 2017
An urgent, absorbing exposé—why Americans are fleeing our broken banking system in growing numbers, and how alternatives are rushing in to do what banks once did
What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high‑net‑worth entrepreneur, and a twenty‑something graduate student have in common? All three are victims of our dysfunctional mainstream bank and credit system. Today nearly half of all Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their high monthly fees and overdraft charges, are gouging their low- and middle-income customers, while serving only the wealthiest Americans. Lisa Servon delivers a stunning indictment of America’s banks, together with eye-opening dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives that have sprung up to fill the void. She works as a teller at RiteCheck, a check‑cashing business in the South Bronx, and as a payday lender in Oakland. She looks closely at the workings of a tanda, an informal lending club. And she delivers fascinating, hopeful portraits of the entrepreneurs reacting to the unbanking of America by designing systems to creatively serve many of us. Banks were once essential pillars of our lives; now we can no longer count on them to do right by us.
"Required reading for fans of muckraking authors like Barbara Ehrenreich, this fascinating look at the future of money management insists that the 'unbanked' are a sector deserving of respect and solid options." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives was very interesting, I like many people look at check cashing and payday loan operations as near criminal. Lisa Servon, begs to differ, she takes us on a imitate look at how these companies function with the communities they serve. We have been led to believe that check cashing and payday loan stores are just a step above mob loan sharks. The author paints a totally different picture of how these operations function within their communities. As with any business there are bad actors but on the whole, these banking alternatives service a large group of people.
Servon in researching the writing this book actually worked for several of these companies, she was able to learn first hand how and why people use these entities. I can see that bank could be a hindrance to accessing your money, if you live paycheck to paycheck. Basically the author says the check cashing and payday loan companies really serve the emerging middle class better that banks as they are very straight forward in the fees they charge, they offer immediate access to one’s money, they will lend money that people may not otherwise have access too.
The book is about is a quick read, well worth the time.