Archived—Project Summaries 2006-2007 - Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC) - Manitoba

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21 – 222 Osborne Street South
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3L 1Z3
Tel: 204-452-2576
Fax: 204-284-1876

1. Low Income Consumer Access to Cheque Cashing Services


CAC–Manitoba has become aware of the difficulty many low income consumers experience accessing basic banking services.

CAC–Manitoba's goals are:

  • to discover what concerns, characteristics and barriers are common to those consumers living with low income who do not use mainstream cheque cashing services, and how these consumers differ from low income consumers who are using banks and credit unions to cash cheques.
  • to gain an in-depth understanding of consumer motivation when deciding between an alternative cheque cashing service and a mainstream financial institution.
  • to discover the level of awareness amongst the target consumer group regarding consumer rights when cashing cheques.
  • to discover the level of awareness and understanding of the target consumer group regarding the fees attached to cheque cashing services.
  • to learn about current strategies being used by industry and financial education organizations to improve consumer awareness and access to mainstream cheque cashing services.

Building on work that has already been done by other researchers, CAC–Manitoba will use focus groups and surveys in three major Canadian cities to obtain a clearer picture of consumers facing this issue, and to determine the barriers that keep them from mainstream cheque cashing services. In consultation with financial institutions across the country and its advisory group, CAC–Manitoba will develop practical recommendations that can be shared with industry, financial education organizations, and government.

More specifically, CAC–Manitoba will:

  • Literature reviewCAC–Manitoba will begin its research by documenting the research of others on the issue of access to cheque cashing services, with specific focus on research relating to low income consumers.
  • Advisory Group — Bring together representatives of organizations working with low income consumers, financial education groups, and organizations representing banks, credit unions, and caisses populaires. Use the gathered insight and expertise of this group to determine key questions and issues affecting low income consumers, develop focus group criteria and outlines, and survey questions. This group will provide the balanced backdrop on which all of our research will be tested.
  • Focus groupsCAC–Manitoba will hold focus groups with low income consumers in three provinces. Each group will include consumers who use mainstream financial institutions for cheque cashing, and those who use alternative financial institutions for the same service. Each group will include some consumers who currently hold, or have held, a low transaction fee account. CAC–Manitoba will use the Stats Canada income guidelines to determine low income, but the Association will keep in mind regional variations and the recommendations of its advisory group members.
  • Review of current strategies and their effectivenessCAC–Manitoba will talk with organizations providing financial education, financial institutions, and other stakeholders regarding strategies they are currently using to increase awareness and access for low income consumers to mainstream services, and the effectiveness of these strategies.
  • Survey of low income consumersCAC–Manitoba will work with other organizations, currently working with its target group of consumers in a number of Canadian cities, to disseminate and facilitate completion of surveys building on the information we receive from our initial focus groups.
  • CAC–Manitoba will consult with its Advisory Group, and with other stakeholder organizations to find strategies to address issues of literacy, language, and other concerns that might discourage our target group of consumers from completing surveys.
  • Conclusions and recommendations — Working with the advisory group, CAC–Manitoba will bring all the information it has gathered to the table and develop a detailed profile of the consumer group concerned, an overview of successful strategies currently being used, and some recommendations for further research and future action to address the issue.
    1. CAC–Manitoba will meet with stakeholder representatives in Manitoba to discuss its recommendations
    2. CAC–Manitoba will meet with provincial and federal government representatives (where possible), and share the results of our research and our recommendations.