• While digital payments offer an increasing number of benefits to consumers and businesses, they can also exclude some from the financial system. The Atlanta Fed is working to ensure that all consumers and businesses have access to the nation's payment systems.

    In a September 2020 paper, the Atlanta Fed looks at how the growth of digital payments benefits many businesses and consumers but can also shut out many households who are among the least economically mobile and resilient. This growth has led to an increasing number of businesses going cashless or adopting restrictive payment acceptance processes, practices that effectively exclude cash-based consumers, a population already marginally attached to the economy.

    Work to increase financial inclusion have generally focused on bringing people without bank accounts or with limited access to financial services into the traditional financial system. The Atlanta Fed paper points out that the share of consumers who lack credit or debit cards is actually larger than the share of those who are unbanked, so proposes that focusing efforts on ensuring equitable access to new, more convenient payments services—without discouraging innovation—can increase financial inclusion.

    What are the most important efforts we should pursue to ensure inclusion of this disconnected population? To identify those efforts and do the work, the Atlanta Fed has formed a special multidisciplinary committee made up of experts in the fields of payments and financial inclusion. View the charter of the Special Committee on Payments Inclusion.

    The Special Committee on Payments Inclusion

    The committee, together with the Atlanta Fed, aims to play a pivotal role in supporting safe and inclusive payments innovation that advances economic mobility and resilience in the Sixth District and beyond. The committee has worked to advance ubiquitous access to safe, efficient, and inclusive payments for all.

    To accomplish its goals, the committee commissioned its members to conduct research on emerging issues in payments inclusion, collect and analyze data to better understand trends in the evolving payments industry, and make recommendations to the industry or policymakers based on research findings. The committee has published the results of that research in its report, “Promoting Payments Inclusion in a Digital Payments Era.”

    The committee has been active for two years. Committee members and the Atlanta Fed will determine if there is additional work to pursue and may decide to extend the committee's work.

    Committee Members

    • David Benck, senior vice president and general counsel, Hibbett Sports
    • Sudheer Chava, Alton M. Costley chair and professor of finance, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Denise Dias, digital finance policy, regulation and supervision expert, CGAP-The World Bank-Toronto Centre
    • Andrea Donkor, vice president, regulatory relations, PayPal
    • Timothy Flacke, cofounder and executive director, Commonwealth
    • John Garratt, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Dollar General
    • Mark Pearce, director of the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
    • Bruce Renard, executive director, The National ATM Council Inc.
    • Courtney Robinson, head of financial inclusion and public policy development, Square Inc.
    • Bob Skiba, executive vice president, InComm Payments
    • John M. Turner Jr., chief executive officer and president, Regions Bank
    • Silvanus J. Udoka, dean of the School of Business Administration, Clark Atlanta University
    • Robert Ward, senior vice president, Global Payments
    • Brian K. Williams, president, First Farmers and Merchants Bank in Columbia, Tennessee

    The Atlanta Fed plays several key roles in the payments industry, including operator, supervisor, and researcher. Our district is also a major hub for domestic payments—approximately 70 percent of U.S. payments flow through Atlanta, earning the metro area the nickname of "Transaction Alley."

    Roles the Atlanta Fed plays in payments include:

    • Operator. Federal Reserve Financial Services is an integrated organization within the Federal Reserve that is responsible for managing critical payment and securities services that foster the accessibility, integrity and efficiency of the US economy.
    • Supervisor. In addition to conducting exams of bank holding companies and domestic and international banks, we supervise technology service providers.
    • Convener and researcher. We are exploring payments systems design and risks in technological innovation and bringing people together to share, educate, and collaborate.

    The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is committed to sharing knowledge and encourages an open dialogue through a variety of channels. Channels can include conferences, forums, webinars, and podcasts. We also write research papers and articles.

    Audiences that we frequently engage with are:

    • Fintechs and payments providers
    • Depository and financial Institutions
    • Third-party processors and technology service providers
    • Consumers
    • Trade groups
    • Regulators
    • Local and state government agencies
    • Universities

    Atlanta Fed events are typically open to these audiences. We will post event details here and on the Atlanta Fed News and Events page.

    Atlanta Fed cohosts webinar

    Financial inclusion is of central importance to countries across the globe, and fintechs offer great promise. On May 20, 2021, the Atlanta Fed's Americas Center and the Consulate of Brazil cohosted the Financial Inclusion and Open Banking webinar. Panelists explored how fintech and open banking are shaping financial services in the United States and Brazil and holding out the hope that innovative, technology-based financial institutions can offer financial services to the historically unbanked and underbanked. Watch the video.

    Economy Matters Payments Series Podcasts
    Each quarter, we will explore hot topics in payments innovation as they relate to payments inclusion, payments integrity, banking and regulation.

    If you are interested in discussing topics on payments inclusion, please complete the form and briefly describe your request.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Dave Altig
    Executive Vice President and Research Director
    Research Division

    Fonda Bigbee
    Senior Credit and Risk Analyst
    Credit and Risk Management

    Nell Campbell-Drake
    Vice President
    Federal Reserve Financial Services

    Natalie Channer
    Supervision and Regulation

    Chris Colson
    Program Director
    Federal Reserve Financial Services

    Joe Davidson
    Senior Vice President
    Supervision and Regulation

    Leah Davenport
    Executive Vice President
    Corporate Engagement

    Ernie Evangelista
    Senior Knowledge Management Specialist
    Public Affairs

    Scarlett Heinbuch
    Payments Risk Expert
    Retail Payments Risk Forum

    Megan Houck
    Senior Business Analyst
    Regional Economic Information Network

    Rachel Riezman
    Manager, Project Management
    Cash Function Office

    Lali Shaffer
    Payments Risk Expert
    Retail Payments Risk Forum

    Oz Shy
    Senior Policy Adviser Economist
    Research Division

    Erien Terry
    Assistant Vice President
    Supervision and Regulation

    Brenda Thompson
    Senior IT Project Manager
    Business Technology and Security

    Larry Wall
    Research Center Executive Director
    Research Division

    Jessica Washington
    Assistant Vice President
    Retail Payments Risk Forum