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Preferences for banking and payment services among low- and moderate-income households


  • Michael S. Barr
  • Jane K. Dokko
  • Eleanor M. Feit


This paper characterizes the features of an account-based payment card--including bank debit cards, prepaid debit cards, and payroll cards--that elicit a high take-rate among low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, particularly those without bank accounts. We apply marketing research techniques, specifically choice modeling, to identify the design of a specific financial services product for LMI households, who often face difficulties maintaining standard bank accounts but need banking services. After monthly cost, we find that, on average, non-monetary features of a payment card, such as the availability of federal protection and the type of card, are factors LMI consumers weigh most heavily when choosing among differently designed payment cards. We estimate a high take rate for a well-designed payment card that is decreasing in its cost. The sensitivity of the take-rate with respect to cost varies by income and bank account ownership. These results can guide private and public sector initiatives to expand the range of financial services available to LMI households.

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  • Michael S. Barr & Jane K. Dokko & Eleanor M. Feit, 2011. "Preferences for banking and payment services among low- and moderate-income households," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-13, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ana M. Aizcorbe & Arthur B. Kennickell & Kevin B. Moore, 2003. "Recent changes in U.S. family finances: evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-32.
    2. Ron Borzekowski & K. Kiser Elizabeth & Ahmed Shaista, 2008. "Consumers' Use of Debit Cards: Patterns, Preferences, and Price Response," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(1), pages 149-172, February.
    3. Humphrey, David B & Kim, Moshe & Vale, Bent, 2001. "Realizing the Gains from Electronic Payments: Costs, Pricing, and Payment Choice," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 216-234, May.
    4. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julie Birkenmaier & Qiang Fu, 2016. "The Association of Alternative Financial Services Usage and Financial Access: Evidence from the National Financial Capability Study," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 450-460, September.

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    Debit cards ; Credit cards ; Payment systems ; Consumer protection;

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