Financial bandwidth: Correlates of online banking among a sample of public housing residents in the United States

Paper to be presented at #husITa16 in Seoul, Korea, 29 June 2016.


Tianca CrockerWenhong Chen, Joseph Straubhaar and Xiaoqian Li (The University of Texas at Austin, USA).


In 2014, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reported that households in the United States who have never held a bank account (checking or savings) were the least likely to have Internet access. Furthermore, the majority of unbanked households in the United States included racial/ethnicity minorities, low-income earners, the unemployed, and people with work-limiting disabilities. This occurs despite recent trend analyses that show Internet usage and access have expanded to 80 percent of the American population over the last 15 years, and in light of the financial sector’s expansion into web-based services that lessen time and place-based participation barriers for many families. The digital divide clearly persists for segments of the population, and online behavior has become another indicator of economically disadvantaged individuals and communities. This project will explore baseline predictors of online banking use and frequency among a sample of government subsidized public housing residents in Austin, Texas.

The needs assessment data referenced in this presentation was gathered for the 2015 “Unlocking the Connection” project. “Unlocking the Connection” is a groundbreaking collaboration between the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA), Google Fiber, the City of Austin, The University of Texas Moody College of Communication, Austin Free-Net and other partners to narrow the digital divide for approximately 4,300 public housing residents living in 18 HACA housing properties in Austin by providing no-cost broadband connections in the home. Data is drawn from survey responses collected from 402 HACA households for a response rate of 22 percent.

Our presentation will focus on distinctive predictors of online banking while highlighting potential opportunities for outreach following broadband deployment. Findings have significant implications for efforts to improve the economic well-being of low-income residents in government subsidized housing.


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