There are more than one million unbanked and underbanked households in New York City.
Far too often, we hear of unbanked community members who get caught in traps while borrowing and lending money without any paperwork. With no place to turn, the unbanked often find themselves victim to the predatory practices of loan sharks, which can mean up to $360,000 of wealth lost over the span of one’s career.
Unsurprisingly, neighborhoods of color are disproportionately targeted, with the highest concentrations of underbanked and unbanked residing in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
IDNYC has been a game-changer for New Yorkers. Regardless of circumstance or immigration status, IDNYC has granted New Yorkers access to this city in ways many had not had before.
Exploring options to use IDNYC—a program created to expand access to all New Yorkers—to further expand financial inclusion to those that most need it is a natural next step.
Giving unbanked and underbanked New Yorkers the option to add a “Smart Chip” to their IDNYC aims to provide a safer way for communities of color and New Yorkers to protect their hard-earned wealth, while still giving them the agency to decide what is right for them.
I urge the Council to reconsider this legislation and work side by side with advocates and the City to continue exploring the option of the smart chip. It is time for us to come together and find a solution that not only puts an end to the exploitation of our unbanked and underbanked community members but meaningfully expands financial access, giving all New Yorkers a fair, unbiased chance for economic empowerment and mobility.