Have you ever heard of a banker with no bank account?
Joel Lawton, a Texas-based mortgage banker with no checking or savings account, is just one of many Huffington Post readers living off the financial grid.
After The Huffington Post ran a story last month about Josh Crawford, who has lived without a bank account for 14 years, we received a flood of emails from readers who also had ditched theirs.
Like many of them, Lawton opted out because he was dissatisfied with bank policies.
“I too got nabbed a few times by the banks['] strategies,” Lawton wrote in an email.
"I was very tired of getting hit with crazy and expensive fees from these institutions [through] no fault of my own," HuffPost reader William Brock wrote.
Unsatisfied bank customers have found alternative ways to make electronic transactions. Lawton is able to have a paycheck deposited directly into his NetSpend prepaid card account; and it has a more consumer-friendly policy about overdrafts than a traditional bank account, he wrote. "I get to write NO checks, and I like it that way."
Prepaid cards have experienced a jump in popularity as customers have not welcomed bank fees now associated with many checking and savings accounts. The total sum placed on reloadable cards rose from $19.5 billion in 2008 to $57 billion last year --- nearly a threefold increase.
Lance Roy, an Amazon warehouse supervisor in South Carolina, told The Huffington Post in an email that he hasn't had a traditional bank account in two years. Like Lawton, Roy prefers the prepaid alternative. Since he received a routing number for his transactions with his Visa Payroll card, he can still pay his rent online and use services like PayPal, he said.
PayPal -- a popular service among those unbanked -- lets registered users make payments through its online account system. The platform also offers a "bill me later" option that allows customers to make online purchases and pay at a later date.
The company has been expanding its reach by offering alternatives for other bank services such as the ability to withdraw money from ATMs. Fifteen new retailers have recently added technology for customers to register into their online PayPal accounts to make purchases without any plastic.
While many unbanked readers are using creative methods to participate in the electronic payment world, some were so disillusioned with the financial services industry that they wanted to escape the grid in other ways.
"Closed my bank account almost two years ago and haven't looked back," reader Blake R. Mathews wrote to The Huffington Post. "Cash, barter, and trade are my means in this free market. No mobile phone, no car, and no debt."