Someone without a bank account is said to be “unbanked,” and one possible reason could be a lack of banks in the geographical area. Someone who has a bank account but who decides to withdraw all the money is said to “unbank.” The “unbanking” terminology dates to at least 1838, when John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) spoke out against the Bank of the United States and sought for “unbanking the banks.”
The term “unbanked” became popular by at least 1989, when it was used in the United States Congress. Credit unions told people to “unbank” and Harborstone Credit Union (Lakewood, WA) trademarked “The Unbank,” with a claimed first use in November 1981.
“Underbanking”—a related term—is when people have poor access to banks.
The unbanked are people who do not have their own bank accounts. Along with the underbanked, they may rely on alternative financial services for their financial needs, where these are available.
The unbanked in the United States
The unbanked are described by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as those without an account at a bank or other financial institution and are considered to be outside the mainstream for one reason or another. The FDIC estimates there are 10 million unbanked or underbanked American households.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
unbanked adj. (also absol.).
1965 Economist 19 June p. vii, One way of jerking the clearing banks into providing better facilities for the great unbanked public.
1980 Daily Tel. 9 Dec. 15 The banks are well aware that they can best pay their own wages bills by drumming up more business from the great unbanked.
29 September 1838, Phoenix Civilian (Cumberland, MD), pg. 2, col. 4:
Of what a compromising character must his regard for the Constitution be, by his own showing, if he could, remembering his oath of office, lay his hand on his heart, and propose a Bank of the United States, for even “a limited time!”—if he could violate the Constitution, for the purpose of “unbanking the banks!”
(John C. Calhoun, 1782-1850—ed.)
Commonwealth Banking Systems
By Wilfred Frank Crick
Oxford: Clarendon Press
The growth of deposits is due also to the extension of banking services, in the form of new bank offices and increased faculties, to previously underbanked or even unbanked parts of the country.
Consumer Access to Basic Financial Services: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage of the Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, First Session, October 17, 1989
By United States. Congress. House. Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs. Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
We found that 19% of the population was “unbanked”. This means that they do not have a checking, savings, money market account, IRA, or CD with a bank, savings and loan, or credit union.
Google News Archive
20 July 1997, Spartanburg (SC)
The U.S. Treasury has a pretty clear idea of how to distribute money to those they call “unbanked.”
1 August 1997, Rockford (IL) Register Star, “Paychex offers debit card,” pg. 1B, col. 4:
“Our initial idea was to help the ‘unbanked’...an to make the employers’ jobs as easy as possible,” Rambo said.
(Diane Rambo, Paychex vice president for electronic network services—ed.)
OCLC WorldCat record
Payroll cards : an innovative product for reaching the unbanked and underbanked
Author: United States. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Community Affairs Dept.
Publisher: [Washington, D.C.] : Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 2003.
Edition/Format: Computer file : Document : National government publication : English
OCLC WorldCat record
Financial empowerment for the unbanked and underbanked consumer : “crossing the red line”
Author: Rickie C Keys; University of Denver. Center for African American Policy.
Publisher: Denver, CO : University of Denver Center for African American Policy, 
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : English
Wal-Mart’s Unbanking Business
By Anita Hamilton Thursday, June 21, 2007
On Wednesday, the nation’s largest retailer unveiled plans to open 1,000 in-store MoneyCenters aimed at serving the 40 million or so people without traditional bank accounts. The main draw at the centers, which will be in about a quarter of all Wal-Mart stores by the end of 2008, is the cashing of government and printed payroll checks for the bargain price of $3 a pop. The retailer is also debuting a reloadable, prepaid Visa debit card that does not require a bank account or proof of U.S. citizenship.
This broad rollout of low-priced check-cashing and debit cards marks a milestone for the millions of “unbanked” Americans who have long had to pay rates as high as 10% of the face value of their paychecks in order to cash them and then pay cash for every single purchase they make because they do not qualify for a credit card or checking account.
August 17, 2010
What is “unbanking?” It’s a marketing term created by various credit unions (and perhaps some banks) for use in ads, brochures and other creative materials. Some use “unbanking” as a conceptual platform and wrap all their brand messages around it, while others use it to make a singular, standalone statement, perhaps just in a tagline.
“Unbanking” isn’t necessarily the opposite of “banking.” It’s a philosophical rejection of those (frustrating) things that often plague consumers’ banking experiences.
Dan Rather Reports, Unbanking, “Bank Transfer Day”
Uploaded on Oct 26, 2011
Bank Transfer Day began as a grassroots movement launched from a laptop by a woman who couldn?t take another bank fee—but it’s growing day by day and it’s helping average Americans send the big banks a message by “un-banking”—taking their business to smaller banks and credit unions. Dan Rather Reports airs Tuesdays at 8pm ET.
The Organic Prepper
Unbanking vs. Underbanking: How to Break Up with the Financial System
March 24, 2013
The US government actually has a name for people who have no bank accounts – they call these folks “the unbanked”. The FDIC defines the unbanked as “those without an account at a bank or other financial institution and are considered to be outside the mainstream for one reason or another.” Another term is “the underbanked” – “people or businesses that have poor access to mainstream financial services normally offered by retail banks. The underbanked can be characterized by a strong reliance on non-traditional forms of finance and micro-finance often associated with disadvantaged and the poor, such as check cashers, loan sharks and pawnbrokers.”
Word Mark THE UNBANK
Goods and Services IC 036. US 100 101 102. G & S: banking services, namely, checking and savings accounts, direct deposit, cash machine access, safe deposit boxes, notary, telephone banking, certificates of deposit, IRAs, travelers checks, overdraft protection, credit and debit cards and loans; and insurance services, namely, credit life, disability [, deposit and life savings ] insurance. FIRST USE: 19811100. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19811100
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 74482629
Filing Date January 24, 1994
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition March 10, 1998
Registration Number 2427720
Registration Date February 13, 2001
Owner (REGISTRANT) Harborstone Credit Union CHARTERED CREDIT UNION WASHINGTON 9611 Gravelly Lake Drive SW Lakewood WASHINGTON 98499
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Heidi L. Sachs
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20100610.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20100610
Other Data Registration limited to the entire United States with the exception of the states of Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi and Wisconsin. Concurrent Use proceeding no. 1098 with application Serial Nos. 74/482,629 and 74/482,630.
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New York City • Banking/Finance/Insurance • Thursday, March 28, 2013 • Permalink