Payday loan services are even more essential in the COVID-19 pandemic

Opinion: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a financial crisis that is particularly affecting Arizonans without bank accounts. This is where we come in.

Arizona is home to more than 550,000 small businesses, each affected in different ways by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases demonstrates that the virus knows no bounds in who it affects, when it strikes, and where it ultimately takes us.

For now, we need to be particularly mindful of underserved and unserved communities – from broadband penetration to access to healthcare and from access to stores serving healthy food to banks providing financial services. Communities that are not close to these essential services are not only at risk of being left behind, but also of suffering more damage, including economic damage, during this crisis.

A major concern is the plight of underbanked and unbanked people in our communities.

1 in 4 Arizonans don’t have a bank account

According to FDIC 2017 Annual Report, nearly one in four Arizonans does not have deposit accounts with traditional financial institutions. These hard-working, tax-paying people either don’t have access to local banks or choose not to participate in our traditional banking system.

And it is through Arizona Financial Services Centers that provide payday advance and securities lending services that these people can access cash when they need it.

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As many small businesses in our state close again due to the pandemic, financial services centers have been deemed essential by the Arizona government.

Title loans, check cashing are essential

From cashing stimulus checks to adjusting payment terms, the wide range of services we provide are critical to the livelihoods of thousands of families in these underserved and unserved communities. Now more than ever, alongside our fellow employers, our customers come first and our industry is committed to staying open.

Why? Because we provide liquidity to our communities through a variety of services, including check cashing, wire transfer services, and small loan provisioning, all regulated under federal laws and state-specific statutes that , in many cases, caps our fees.

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Additionally, we adhere to strong transparency and disclosure requirements, allowing us to work with our clients on individualized plans that help them make ends meet with a full understanding of their obligations.

This approach in our competitive and regulated marketplace ensures that my customers, our neighbors, have confidence in strong financial products and services that allow them to make the purchases they want, whether it’s groceries or spending daily expenses incurred by their families. There is nothing more important right now than having access to money.

Access to emergency cash is essential now

With 4 in 10 Americans unable to cover a $400 emergency expense, multi-suite lines of financial products and services like ours are needed more than ever.

Our family business has served this community for over two decades, providing neighborhood financial services through good times and bad. What I’ve learned as a neighborhood business owner is that our clients want a partner in their financial decisions and support for their business goals.

As one of the most business-friendly and breathtaking states, Arizona will weather this tough time.

We have experienced the devastation this pandemic has wreaked on our neighborhoods and cities, but by working together, we can get back on track one day at a time. As a dedicated small business owner, I look forward to playing a small part in this recovery.

Jennifer Robertson is the CEO of Checkmate, an Arizona-wide financial services center, and president of the Financial Service Centers of America. Join her at [email protected].

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