SYOSSET, NY, March 20, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Almost 35 million American households--more than 65 million adults--are unbanked or underbanked, reported the FDIC in a survey published in 2016. But one industry figure argues that consumers are being poorly served by the two labels, and by the financial services industry which persistently uses the terms.
"These tens of millions of consumers aren't unbanked or underbanked," says Jay Guskind, President and CEO of Pay-O-Matic, New York City's largest provider of check cashing and alternative financial services to this market segment. "They're underserved, by banks that close down branches in their neighborhoods, or make it difficult or impossible to access the services these consumers need--transactional services such as cashing a check, buying a money order, sending cash via wire transfer or paying bills electronically.
"They're underserved by traditional financial institutions that have made it clear that they no longer value their business."
A visionary approach to the customer experience
Guskind, who took the helm at Pay-O-Matic last October, brings a unique perspective to his position. After serving as regional vice president of stores for Lord & Taylor during the 1980s, Guskind moved to Citibank, where he served as retail banking director. At Citibank, Guskind introduced retailing operations, metrics and a customer-centric approach to branch management, helping reshape the model of retail banking.
"We're now delivering the things consumers used to receive from banks: safe and convenient locations, a portfolio of in-demand services and a respect for the customer," says Guskind. "With 150 locations and stores in all five boroughs, plus Westchester and Long Island, Pay-O-Matic is more ubiquitous than most banks. And New Yorkers are coming to our stores for the outstanding customer experience they once expected from traditional financial institutions.
"No matter which of our 150 stores you visit," continues Guskind, "we'll recognize you through our system, so we're able to assist you better and make you feel special. Our competitors aren't linked up like we are, and don't share data from store to store, so they can't offer that kind of experience."
Helping move the industry into the modern era
Guskind bristles at the perception still held by some that the check-cashing industry employs predatory practices. "It's a Rodney Dangerfield situation," he ruefully notes. "We don't get any respect. But times have changed, and so has check cashing. Pay-O-Matic is an alternative financial services company fulfilling a vital need for a growing customer base. We're working hard to reform the image of the industry.
"Take a look at our stores," says Guskind. "We operate with complete transparency. The price for every one of our services is posted on the wall. At a bank, it's sometimes hard to know what you're being charged for. Our customers know exactly what they're paying for--and they really appreciate that transparency."
Enhancing the customer experience at the store level
Since taking the leadership role at Pay-O-Matic late last year, Guskind has outlined an ambitious agenda, starting with a strategic plan for renovating and improving the company's 150 stores. "We need to always be improving the experience at the point of contact," he says, recalling his tenure in retailing at Citibank.
"We're expanding our hours, increasing the number of stores that are open 24/7," he continues. "And we're going to provide more omni-channel services to our customers. I want them to be able to initiate transactions on the phone or online, so when they walk into a store, it takes them 30 seconds instead of four minutes.
"We're exploring new ways to help people manage their financial transactions--and their lives," states Guskind. "It seems elementary, but so many businesses forget this essential truth: the consumer has a choice. Our industry is highly regulated, so there's very little variation with regard to price or services offered.
"Consumers are making their choice based on convenience and the customer experience," Guskind concludes. "We're pleased so many of our customers choose to walk past the storefronts of our competitors because they prefer to do business at a Pay-O-Matic store."
Pay-O-Matic is New York's largest provider of check cashing services, handling more than 19 million transactions annually. Founded in 1958, Pay-O-Matic has grown to 150 stores throughout the New York metropolitan area, with 51 locations in Brooklyn, 42 stores in the Bronx, 33 locations in Queens, 20 stores in Manhattan and four locations on Long Island. Pay-O-Matic locations offer check cashing and a portfolio of convenient services including bill payments, money transfers, money orders and prepaid debit cards. Pay-O-Matic is a neighborhood financial services provider and a proud member of the community. For more information, visit www.payomatic.com
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