June 2007

Taking It to the Bank

As the immigrant population grows, so does the need to divert its financial transactions into legitimate channels

By Candace Moonshower

From 1990 to 2011, a mere 21 years, Nashville will experience an 871% increase in the number of Hispanic residents living in the community, according to a study performed by Geoscape International, a consumer research company based in Miami. And this exponential growth is not limited to Nashville. Small and large towns across the state of Tennessee are witnessing a shift in their populations. With that cultural shift comes an economic outgrowth that includes stores, restaurants and other businesses, all of which have a legitimate need for financial and banking services. In addition, there are also many undocumented immigrants in need of banking services, too.

Banks are responding, offering products and services including banking statements in Spanish, Spanish-speaking tellers, and foreign remittance cards that allow Hispanic residents of the United States to place funds on a card that can then be mailed to Latin America. In a recent criticized move, Bank of America decided to provide access to credit cards for undocumented immigrants.

According to Greg Gonzales, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, arguing against banking services for the “unbankedâ€