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
Ethnobanking in the USA: from antidiscrimination vehicles to transnational entities
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.