WASHINGTON — The issue of serving so-called "underbanked" borrowers has taken on a new urgency since regulators began cracking down on payday and certain other low-dollar, high-interest loans, prompting fears of a credit crunch for low-income consumers.

Even as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau writes new rules for payday loans and the Justice Department continues "Operation Choke Point," which is designed to force institutions to sever relationships with online lenders, regulators are trying to create and promote safer, viable alternatives that can expand access to the banking system.

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