The FDIC’s Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion convened a panel on ways to expand access for unbanked and underbanked consumers through mobile phones. The panel presented a new whitepaper, “Assessing the Economic Inclusion Potential of Mobile Financial Services,” to facilitate the discussion, though not as an official policy statement.

The paper outlines how mobile financial services can be leveraged to meet the needs of the underserved and the obstacles currently in the way of broader implementation. The panel said that while many financial institutions are rapidly expanding their mobile financial services to customers, more could be done to offer such services to consumers without an existing financial institution relationship. For example, enrollment in online banking services often requires access to a bank’s online services, but many of the underserved lack online access. Finding other ways to enroll in mobile banking would broaden access for this population.

As increased regulation limits many fees and increases compliance costs for banks, the importance of the nearly 17 million adults who do not have a checking or savings account grows. The FDIC is looking to expand access to these individuals, since they often obtain financial services outside the mainstream banking system, where safety and security may be lacking.

More information may be found here.