Union Bank is rolling out a new Access Account aimed at low and moderate income residents and other consumers who may not qualify for a traditional bank account.

The checkless account minimizes the likelihood of fees such as overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees, along with providing easier access to funds via branch offices or through ATMs, the bank said.

Customers using the account can also use an ATM card to do point-of-sale transactions at participating merchants.

According to a study by the Greenlining Institute, a policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., about 34 million U.S. households are unbanked or underbanked, and resort to alternative financing sources such as check cashing stores, where they are charged excessive interest rates.

Most of the unbanked are low and moderate income families, the Greenlining Institute said. “We and other community groups have been urging banks to address the needs of these households, who often have found conventional bank accounts to be too expensive or too confusing,” said Greenling Institute officer Sasha Werblin. “We’re glad Union Bank has moved closer toward meeting the needs of these families and expect other banks to do the same.”

— SDBJ Staff Report