How immigrants without bank accounts get by

An introduction to “unbanked” workers in America – mainly Mexican – can be found at Financial DNA Weekly, May 14, 2004 According to this report, the Mexican worker in U.S. remits on average $2000 a year to Mexico. Average individual remittance is $300, with transaction fees of $10 to $20. This is a $3.5 billion business growing to $10 billion. This source estimates that only 25% of Mexican workers have a bank account, which presumably supports its $10 billoin forecast.
Another source, in contradiction, estimates that 40% of Latin American in the U.S. do not have a bank account. “A worker earning $12,000 a year could pay $250 for check cashing services” per Banking the Poor: Policies to Bring Low-Income Americans Into the Financial Mainstream, by Michael S. Barr, University of Michigan Law School, Published in The Brookings Institution, Research Brief, pg. 1 (September 2004)
Jopari Solutions, run by insurance professionals, has reportedly proposed to major workers compensation insurers a service to expedite indemnity payments, including to unbanked recipient.
The Financial DNA Weekly report contains the following nuggets:


Money remittances: about half of Mexican immigrants remit money home. Western union has dominated the business.
Short term lending: conventionally pawn shops but consulate-provided ID the business might shift the business. Banco Popular is a big player.
Payment of bills through electronic transfers: storefront given cash, then it pays bill to third party (phone company, etc) electronically.
Payroll check cashing Walmart has entered the business
The leading corporations in the field of financial services to the unbanked according to the report are (note that this report was issued in 2004):
ACE Cash Express approx 900 locations. Charges about 2.3% of face value of check to cash it.
Cash America approx 800 locations. Payday loans
Ezcorp approx 300 locations. Pawn shop loans and payday loans
First Cash Financial approx 250 locations. Pawn shops.
Walmart aprox 3,500 locations. Check cashing ($3 flat rate) plus Moneygram services

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