FiSCA History

Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA) is a professional trade organization representing an expanding industry of financial services providers in local communities across the country. FiSCA was originally established in 1987 as the National Check Cashers Association, changing its name in 2000 to reflect the evolution of the business.

Financial service centers offer a wide array of basic financial services, including check cashing, money transfers, money orders, bill payments and small dollar loans such as payday advances, to millions of Americans who choose not to use financial institutions or who cannot meet the requirements imposed by financial institutions to maintain an account.  Additionally, those living paycheck to paycheck need immediate access to their money and literally cannot afford to wait for a check to clear the banking system.  FSCs provide the instant liquidity these individuals require.

Consumers appreciate the range of “pay as you go” services available from FiSCA members, especially because they know there will be no hidden fees or back end charges associated with their transactions.  These consumers place a very high value on the peace of mind, flexibility and convenience offered by financial service centers.

The industry in the U.S. is composed of approximately 13,000 neighborhood financial service centers, which conduct more than 350 million transactions each year, providing an estimated $106 billion in various products and services to an estimated 30 million customers. In recent years, as a broader spectrum of consumers have sought increased financial service convenience, including flexibility of hours and faster delivery of financial services, community-based financial service centers have proliferated.

The Evolution of the Financial Service Center Industry

From its inception in the 1930s, largely as a response to the banking practices of the Depression era and changes in employer payment practices, the financial service center industry has evolved to become the pivotal link to the payments system for millions of Americans. Our customers opt for convenience or reasons of personal preference to use our locations in addition to, or instead of, the traditional banking system.

Just as many consumers prefer the convenience of specialty stores to large department stores, many consumers prefer the efficiency and convenience of financial service centers over banks. The convenience factor is supported by the fact that nearly 60 percent of FiSCA member customers maintain a savings or checking account at a bank or credit union.  They prefer transacting at FiSCA member stores because of their neighborhood locations, longer hours of operation, and the friendly service they receive.

Emergence of a National Association Representing Financial Service Centers

The growth of the industry was stimulated, in part, by the passage of the Bank Deregulation Act of 1980, which removed deposit rate ceilings and led to explicit pricing for bank deposit services. Faced with a new banking environment, consumers demanded increased convenience and lower costs in fulfilling their financial services needs.  As a result, community-based check cashing centers which provide more convenient access to financial services became increasingly utilized. In 1987, the National Check Cashers Association was established to represent the members of this growing industry.  Increases in fees charged by traditional banks have caused many Americans to look for less costly, fee based options that do not require customers to maintain a large average daily balance in order to receive financial services.

To reflect the industry's growing and diversifying role, the organization voted to change the association's name to the Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA), effective, January 1, 2000. Today, FiSCA, representing more than 6,000 individual financial service centers across the United States, is the industry’s leading voice on legislative, regulatory and business issues.  Our members range from small companies with one location, to publicly traded national companies with hundreds of stores.

An Evolving Industry Offering Expanded Community Financial Services

The financial service center industry started with a simple idea. Provide an easy way for hard working people to convert paychecks into cash within a short walk from their homes or jobs. Over the years our businesses have broadened to offer a wide array of financial services. In addition to check cashing customers now count on FiSCA members for money orders, electronic bill payments, money transfers, small dollar, short-term loans (e.g. payday advances), ATM access, government benefit and payroll payments, tax preparation, prepaid debit cards, deposit acceptance services, and numerous other financial and consumer services.

FiSCA members are continually expanding the roster of services offered to meet customer needs.  Just as the services offered by the industry have expanded over time, the markets we serve have broadened. Traditionally FiSCA members were concentrated in lower income neighborhoods, serving and hiring residents of these communities. More recently as middle income consumers have demanded more convenient financial services, financial service centers have expanded into their communities.

Watch the 'FiSCA at 20' Commemorative Video

2007 marked the 20th Anniversary of FiSCA. To mark the occasion, FiSCA commissioned a commemorative video which was shown at the 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition.  Watch the video on YouTube!