Without a bank account, individuals and families face challenges in managing their day-to-day lives, which carry a significant socio-economic cost. First among these challenges is accessing their wages or benefits, which generally means converting a check, via a check casher, into cash, often at a significant price.
With cash as the only means of payment, making purchases or paying rent and utility bills is far from easy. It generally requires payments to be made in-person, which takes time away from work and family. It also rules out the use of convenient online or telephone payments that many others take for granted. Cash also makes budgeting and money-management difficult, and is especially susceptible to loss or theft.
This cash-based existence was the norm for many Direct Express® beneficiaries, 70 percent of whom have no bank account (according to a 2021 survey). Moving beneficiaries from paper checks to Direct Express® addressed these challenges instantly, leaving room for continued innovation that would enhance the utility and experience for cardholders.
Enhancements to the card’s core utility have included the creation of the Financial Education Center, and the creation of a smartphone app.