Every once in awhile, I receive such an excellent rant from a reader who functions (or malfunctions) in the higher reaches of a community bank that I must take a knee, catch my breath, and say a quick prayer of thanks to both the Hairy Thunderer and the Cosmic Muffin. Today was such a day.
In an only slightly edited form (to protect the guilty), here was my first e-mail of today, thoughtfully composed and spewed by a frustrated senior member of the board of directors of a community bank lodged snugly in the heartland of America :
I can buy an ATM that takes deposits, images checks and delivers cash for $50,000. No health care, no workman's comp, no vacation, no 401K, no lunch break, no lawsuits, no whining. Regulation is making technology much more attractive despite the cost. Don't get me started on the 'talking' ATM's that will cost at least $10,000 each to upgrade (to comply with the ADA in case a blind person in a taxi needs money at midnight...it's a civil rights non-discrimination issue don't you know)
Two banks in our area of the country "agreed" to "settle" Fair Lending claims/investigations (or face daunting litigation) by opening branches in minority neighborhoods that, absent Fair Lending's required enlargement of MSA's to encompass entire county boundries, would not be in their market area. One can agree the areas are underserved by banks; two (minority owned community) banks in the areas failed. Unfortunately, community banks do not have the deep pockets of Boeing to litigate and each bank that settles makes it easier for DOJ to get the next bank to comply. The appropriation of community bank capital (in more ways than this) is stunning.
Why has 'banking the un-banked' become such a rallying cry? Maybe low to moderate income folks don't need a bank. Maybe they need access to their cash without paying high fees to get it. (Remember the cash payroll? An envelope with money in it. Our bank discontinued it decades ago. It was a sad day.)
I feel your pain. You can rant me a river any old time.