Banks abandon the average Joe

I cannot say I think much of this New York Times Dealbook story about changes in the pawn business.

It seems to be based on the novelty, to the reporter, that some pawnbrokers are offering platinum debit cards.

Of interest, though, is the statement that

banks zero in on more affluent customers who promise twice the revenue of their lower-income counterparts, close branches in poor areas and remain stingy with credit

This is news only to the New York Times and is incorrect to boot. Banks have been looking for ways to stop serving half their customers for a generation, ever since it dawned on them that 50% of their clients account for 150% of their profits. In other words, banks not only don’t make small profits out of Joe Sixpack, they make losses.

Were it not for government oversight, you would not find a bank branch anywhere on the poor side of town, and you will not find many.

It is entirely understandable why banks would want to behave this way but not very nice. When they say, we want to be your bank, they don’t really mean it.

Meanwhile, pawn shops keep on serving all comers, as they have for centuries.

Note also this statement:

EZCorp, a publicly traded operator of pawnshops, reported that total loan balances swelled 22 percent to $44 million in its most recent quarter.

EZCorp is big for a pawn business, but $44 million is unnoticeable in the context of commercial banking. In other words, EZCorp is there for the little guy.