How Payday Lenders and Check Cashers Help the Poor

An Ivy League professor went to work in the industry to figure out why so many Americans choose to remain "unbanked."

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Do alternative financial service providers merit their reputation as rip-off artists? Why do their customers choose to remain "unbanked?" To better understand how these businesses operate and why people choose to patronize them, Lisa Servon took a break from teaching at the University of Pennsylvania to work as a teller in the South Bronx and Oakland. She discovered that traditional banks are neglecting the poor and bilking the middle class, leaving payday lenders and check cashers to fill a crucial need.

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