The embeddedness of bank branch networks in immigrant gateways

Wei Li, Lucia Lo, Alex Oberle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Employing the concepts of embeddedness and ethnic assets, and using a mixed methods approach of in-depth interviews and the mapping of spatial data, this article examines the role of branches of various types of banks in immigrant integration in Vancouver and San Francisco. We find that the mainstream banking sector is less territorially embedded and the ethnic banking sector is more socially embedded, especially in the deployment of ethnic assets. Many banks actively pursue business opportunities by designing products and services that cater to the needs of immigrants of high socioeconomic status. Few are active in engaging unbanked and under-banked immigrants. Banks in Vancouver are more proactive in reaching out to their immigrant clientele, but those in San Francisco have begun to reach out to immigrants of lower socio-economic status. Such findings suggest policy implications for differential embeddedness and the utility of ethnic assets as a conceptual notion in financial geography and immigration studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-62
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Geographer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • bank branch network
  • embeddedness
  • ethnic assets
  • San Francisco
  • Vancouver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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