Check cash­ers pro­vide vi­tal ser­vice

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Neil Gold­stein, Baltimore The writer is an ad­min­is­tra­tive con­sul­tant for the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Fi­nan­cial Ser­vice Cen­ters.

In your ed­i­to­rial re­gard­ing the zon­ing over­haul in Baltimore City (“Trans­form­ing Baltimore,” Oct. 29), you noted that it might be a good thing in some cir­cum­stances to sub­ject zon­ing de­ci­sions to the po­lit­i­cal process rather than have clearly de­fined rules and pro­cesses. To sup­port your con­tention, you cited an ex­am­ple of check cash­ing busi­nesses hav­ing to be ap­proved by the coun­cil and noted that the coun­cil mem­ber could serve a valu­able role in pro­tect­ing the com­mu­nity.

The ques­tion be­comes, “Pro­tect the com­mu­nity from what?” Check cash­ers (bet­ter de­scribed as fi­nan­cial ser­vice cen­ters) pro­vide un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties the abil­ity to con­duct ba­sic fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions in busi­nesses oper­at­ing with state check cash­ing li­censes and hav­ing to sub­mit to the reg­u­la­tions over­seen by the state’s Divi­sion of Fi­nan­cial Reg­u­la­tion that lim­its the fees that can be charged and pro­vides for con­sumer pro­tec­tions. In ad­di­tion, many check cash­ers are clas­si­fied as money ser­vice busi­nesses and as such they are re­quired to regis­ter with the U.S. Depart­ment of the Trea­sury, abide by the Bank Se­crecy Act and other fed­eral reg­u­la­tions.

Both the state and fed­eral reg­u­la­tors con­duct on-site ex­am­i­na­tions to en­sure com­pli­ance. Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have con­firmed that con­sumers make a de­lib­er­ate choice to con­duct trans­ac­tions at fi­nan­cial ser­vice cen­ters be­cause the ser­vices of­fered are both rel­e­vant and con­ve­nient to the con­sumer and pro­vided at a trans­par­ent and fair price. The pro­posed over-reach­ing zon­ing re­quire­ments on check cash­ers will do noth­ing but fur­ther limit the abil­ity of many city res­i­dents to be able to con­ve­niently con­duct their fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions as they de­sire.

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