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Americans hate big banks, but can’t quit them

Daily Ticker

More than five years after the financial crisis ended, Americans are still angry at the big banks, which are more powerful than ever.

A Consumer Banking Insights Study of more than 1,000 U.S. adults found that 71% of Americans believe big banks have not taken responsibility for their role in the financial crisis. (Harris Interactive conducted the poll).

Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa, which commissioned the survey in partnership with 200 community banks and credit unions, tells The Daily Ticker he was "surprised by the vitriol."

Related: Can becoming a bank save the Post Office?

The study found that consumers want to support community banks and credit unions but don't view those institutions as viable alternatives to big banks. (Kasasa helps provide free checking and savings accounts). Community banks and credit unions, which had more than 70% of the market share in the mid-90s, now account for less than 30% of that market, says Krajicek. "Obviously it's the mega banks that are taking over."

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist and now professor at MIT’s Sloan of Management, wrote recently in The New York Times that J.P. Morgan (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank, now has assets topping $2.5 trillion compared to around $300 billion in 1995 ($500 billion in current dollars after adjusting for inflation). If you combine those assets with those of Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC), the top four U.S. banks have total assets of $8 trillion.

Related: Latest J.P. Morgan settlement is "extortion" by the government: Jeff Macke

Despite their growth and rising fees, big banks don't have such a bad reputation with consumers. According to a Gallup poll released in August, 43% of Americans have a negative view of the banking industry and 33% have a positive view. But the positive ranking of banks rose 18 points compared to the previous year, qualifying banks for Gallup's "Most Improved" award in 2013.

Related: Is J.P. Morgan asking small community banks for a bailout?

Krajicek tells The Daily Ticker in the video above that despite the negative view of big banks, most consumers don't feel like they really don't have a choice. 

"They don't believe community banks and credit unions have great products...but that's a myth," says Krajicek. "The reason we created Kasasa was to give a bigger marketing voice to these small institutions. You can get a free account, free ATMs nationwide, great interest rates and online, mobile banking."

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