Inderscience Publishers

Ethnobanking in the USA: from antidiscrimination vehicles to transnational entities

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This paper addresses a meta-question: Does ethnic banking matter as a social-economic phenomenon? It discusses the roles of banks in immigrant- and minority-community building and their connections to the USA 'new migration' with our definition of ethnic banks while comparing and contrasting the differential trajectories of ethnobanking development using Los Angeles as a primary case study. Evidence suggests that ethnic banks may represent important, independent and long-term determinants of ethnic communities' growth and prosperity (or failure to grow and prosper). Banks owned by racial-ethnic minorities usually flaunt banking industry trends in one or more ways – by retaining both 'relationship banking' and branches as offices for delivery of services, by focusing on culturally specific growth rather than 'plain-vanilla' growth, by making loans for purposes and to customers that have been written off by non-ethnic banks and so on. They often target different categories of ethnic customers differently, in ways that differ from the conventions of mainstream banking.

Keywords: African American, branch networks, Chinese American, ethnobanks, financial exclusion, immigrants, Korean American, Los Angeles, Latino, racial minorities, ethnic minorities, ethnic banking, USA, United States, relationship banking, culture

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