Monday, December 16, 2013

AMERICA - Our Cash Economy

"Life in the cash economy for “underbanked” Americans" PBS Newshour 12/15/2013


KARLA MURTHY (Newshour):  For most of us, going to the local bank to deposit a check is second nature, but for many poor people in the New York neighborhood of the South Bronx, it’s not.

More than half the residents there don’t have a bank account, so on a Friday afternoon customers trickle into Ritecheck, a check cashing store.  They are paying bills, buying money orders and cashing checks at a type of business often criticized for seeming to exploit the poor - by charging high fees.

But on this day, one of these tellers is not like the others.

Lisa Servon is actually a professor of urban policy at the New School in Manhattan, and her job at this check cashing store is part of a research project to find out why people choose to come here, despite the fees, rather than going to a bank.

KARLA MURTHY to SERVON:  What were your impressions of check cashing places?--

LISA SERVON:  I thought the same thing that you see in the press.  I would cite the literature that called check cashers abusive and predatory and-- you know, being businesses that were really taking advantage of the poor.  So I believed that.

KARLA MURTHY:  But that belief was challenged when a man who runs one of these businesses visited Lisa Servon’s class as guest lecturer five years ago.

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