New York City wanted to help immigrants. It did not matter if the immigrants were undocumented. The idea was that an ID card would help them open a bank account and get a credit card. They could also use it to apply for a driver’s license.
So New York started issuing its own ID cards. More than 670,000 New Yorkers have gotten the NY identification cards.
Life is never that simple. Some of the biggest banks in the city —including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup — will not accept the NY cards. Or the banks will accept them, but only if the card carrier has another source of identification.
No law or rule stops the banks from accepting the NY cards.
The banks are worried about fraud. The cards can be used as part of a money laundering scheme. They fear the cards can be used to fund terrorism. The banks involved are fined when those activities take place. The banks say they are following the rules to stop those practices.
This leaves thousands of immigrants with few choices. They can use check-cashing services, but they will be charged a fee. Or they must carry cash for purchases.
A banker said the banks want to help lower-income consumers. However, there are rules about how much the banks can charge lower-income customers in fees. From the point-of-view of the banks, this makes lower-income consumers less profitable for the banks.
The banks also suggest that consumers can use prepaid cards to access mainstream banking systems.
To get a NYC ID card, residents must show a photo ID and post office proof of their address. The cards have a holographic image and other security features to prevent forgery.
Source: The New York Times December 23, 2015