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Analysis of Alternative Financial Service Providers

In many urban areas around the United States, certain neighborhoods have few, if any, traditional financial services available for local residents. This intriguing report, produced by the Urban Institute Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center (for the Fannie Mae Foundation), explores the alternative financial service providers (such as check-cashing outlets) that some 56 million adults throughout the country use on a regular basis. Authored by Noah Sawyer and Kenneth Temkin, this 34-page report looks specifically at the alternative financial service market in eight diverse demographic and regulatory environments, including Cook County in Illinois and Miami-Dade County in Florida. The report contains five major findings, including the observation that alternative providers tend to cluster in neighborhoods with a higher share of minority and low-income residents, and the more interesting discovery that neighborhoods often contain both traditional banks and alternative providers, which casts some doubts about existing hypotheses in the field. The report concludes with some questions and suggestions for future research.
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