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Unbanked America

By Ezra Klein

One of my meetings today was with a quasi-employee of the megabank HSBC, who said that HSBC's strategy in recent years has been to focus on retail banking, which meant identifying areas where there'd be a lot of new demand for retail-banking products. Those areas? China and India, for obvious reasons. Latin America, also because of sheer population. And, unexpectedly, America, because of the high-level of immigration.

By Ezra Klein  |  May 24, 2010; 10:32 AM ET
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'Tain't just immigration. If HSBC is serious about the opportunity, the low-hanging fruit includes all the un- and underbanked clients of vultures like the payday lenders. While many of these are indeed immigrants, many others are merely working-class, mostly urban folks.

Changing the culture that the check cashers have so assiduously cultivated may be harder than it looks, though. I wish HSBC much luck.

Posted by: wcwhiner | May 24, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about HSBC, but in other contexts the word "unbanked" doesn't refer to "immigrants" as Ezra Klein states, but to illegal aliens.

You can read about a corrupt politician supporting getting the "unbanked" into the system here:

Those who promote things like that count on you not thinking this through, but let's do that for a second: those banks want to profit from money that was earned illegally. And, since banks want more money, that means they'll take steps to make sure that there are more illegal aliens, such as by donating some of their profits to politicians who'll look the other way. If you think this through, you'll see it's all one big corrupt web of illegal activity.

I don't know about HSBC, but don't be a useful idiot for those who want to profit from illegal activity.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | May 24, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

It's not just immigrants. They've got some internet based accounts that are a bit like other internet-only banks, but with more of an international focus, which has a certain appeal when the US economy is so twitchy. Seems like they might also be good for someone who travels internationally.

Posted by: MikeT5 | May 24, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

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