While national research indicates 30 percent of households making less than $25,000 a
year have no checking or savings account, almost 38 percent of Savannah
households in the high-poverty census tracks report having no bank account.
These households are referred to as the "unbanked." They rely on both
banks and non-bank check cashers to manage their income; they use non-banks to
cash their paychecks, pay bills, borrow money, and/or wire money, and in some
cases to buy groceries or gas.
A 2008 "Neighborhood Financial Services Study," conducted by Prof.
Deden Rukmana of Savannah State University's Urban Studies Program for Step Up,
found that residents who rely on non-traditional financial services pay an
average of $34.60 monthly to cash paychecks and about 23% APR for title and
In 2007, a Banking Task Force was formed in Savannah with the broad goal of
helping families access traditional financial services to convert their wages
into wealth, with an initial focus on connecting qualified households to
appropriate bank accounts. Bank on Savannah was launched in 2009 as a joint
effort of Step Up's Banking Taskforce, the FDIC and the City of Savannah.
Approximately 1,000 accounts have been opened each year since the program