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Simple bank accounts

By Marcie Geffner ·
Monday, November 22, 2010
Posted: 9 am ET

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is on a mission to identify bank accounts that are safe and affordable for underserved banking customers, yet still profitable for banks that offer them.

To that end, the agency recently tapped nine banks, varying in size, location and business model, to participate in a case study by offering such accounts to their customers.

The agency described the accounts as being largely electronic, FDIC-insured and subject to applicable consumer protection laws, regulations and guidance, and as having reasonable rates and fees proportional to their cost. The transactional (i.e., checking) accounts will be checkless and won't charge fees for overdrafts or insufficient funds. Some accounts may include financial education, money transfers, bill payment, links to savings accounts to cover overdrafts and "reasonably priced" overdraft lines of credit or small-dollar loans.

Here's a list of what's on offer:

• Bath Savings Institution in Bath, Maine, will offer a new eSafe transactional account and an existing Basic Savings account.

Citibank will offer savings accounts to low-income microloan borrowers in New York City.

• Cross County Federal Savings Bank in Middle Village, N.Y., will offer modified NYC First and Statement Savings accounts at branches in the Greater New York City area.

• First State Bank in Union City, Tenn., will offer a new card-based Checking Plus Basic transactional account and an existing Regular Savings account.

ING Direct in Wilmington, Del., will test the appeal of its existing Orange Saving account for underserved low-income customers in Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; Baltimore-Towson, Md.; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. and Philadelphia, Penn.-Camden, N.J.-Wilmington, Del.

• Liberty Bank and Trust Co. in New Orleans will offer new E-Cash transactional and savings accounts.

• Pinnacle Bank in Lincoln, Neb., will offer Pinnacle Safe Deposit accounts in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

• South Central Bank in Glasgow, Ky., will offer new transactional and savings accounts, promoted in partnership with community organizations.

• Webster Five Cents Savings Bank in Webster, Mass., will offer its existing card-based First Step Checking and Passbook Savings accounts.

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