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Building Bridges, Removing Barriers

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dr. Terri Friedline, Faculty Director of Financial Inclusion at the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI), released a report highlighting the potential of financial inclusion for ameliorating Americans’ financial struggles. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers underscores the urgent need for policies that facilitate financial inclusion—particularly ownership of a basic banking or savings account—as a bridge to greater financial health.
 
As detailed in the report, a majority of US households are struggling financially. Many have difficulty paying their bills, lack savings to deal with financial emergencies, and rely on often-expensive debt to make ends meet. Thwarted in their pursuit of financial security, they cannot invest in their futures. Moreover, too many households do not have meaningful access to mainstream financial institutions. Up to 25% of the most financially vulnerable households do not own bank or savings accounts and financial institutions’ practices pose barriers to access. These Americans are stranded on islands of financial insecurity without a bridge to secure ground.
 
Policies to undergird Americans’ finances with financial inclusion infrastructure could ameliorate their financial strains and also catalyze their upward mobility. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers identifies several such policy reforms, including regulating where and how different types of financial services can operate, determining the fees that banks and credit unions can charge, and identifying the information that is used to calculate credit scores. The policy proposals in this report represent critical steps toward building a stronger bridge between financial inclusion and health. The state of Americans’ financial health reminds us why constructing this bridge is an urgent concern.
 
The full report and executive summary of Building Bridges, Removing Barriers are available for download. Dr. Friedline can be contacted directly at tfriedline@ku.edu.



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