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How small businesses can assist with financial inclusion

Small businesses are what truly distinguish the U.S. economy from that of other nations, providing undeniable character in a business universe most visibly populated by giant corporations. But these smaller companies wouldn't be able to exist and thrive without the loyalty of their customers.

"Small businesses need a base of loyal customers to survive."

Despite the fact that most statistical indicators paint the American economy as booming - like the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics - there are still plenty of hardworking Americans who don't always feel like they're a part of that bounty. Small-business owners may be able to mitigate this issue by adopting certain practices:

Don't forget the underbanked 
The FDIC's most recent survey of American households tells us that the combined demographic of the underbanked and unbanked constitutes more than 30 million people in the U.S. - approximately 10 percent of the American population. Add those who regularly use bank accounts but are still credit-invisible and that figure comes closer to 35 or 40 million.

To accommodate these individuals' needs, small businesses must offer multiple payment methods. Accepting the old (checks and cash) as well as the new (mobile payments) helps ensure no one is left out. 

Offer incentives 
Buying local almost always costs more than making purchases at a chain location. Owners must thus provide perks franchises can't, and quality of goods might not be quite enough. Consider implementing rewards programs, discounts for various community groups (students, seniors, etc.) and similar offerings to keep consumers' interest.

Adopting alternative credit decisioning
Customers who don't show up on FICO scores or only register a small blip can still be financially responsible. Using the PRBC Mainstreet alternative credit scoring model allows small-business owners to develop better impressions of loan applicants' day-to-day financial well-being by analyzing rent, utility payments, insurance and other regular expenses.

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