More needs to be done to bring basic banking services to the poor, Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said Wednesday.

At a conference sponsored by the nonprofit Enterprise Foundation, Mr. Summers said access to banking services should be as "universal" as electricity, telephones, and running water. Some lower-income families pay as much as $15,000 in fees to cash checks or pay bills over their lifetime, he said.

"We will not be an equal country until we are all equally connected to our financial system," he said.

One solution, Mr. Summers said, might be to place automated teller machines in U.S. post offices in poor neighborhoods. Another solution might be to let low-income individuals set up Individual Development Accounts. Savers would receive matching contributions from the government, Mr. Summers said.

-- Scott Barancik

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