State banking regulators have approved a new check-cashing license for the owner of the Sav-More grocery store on Buffalo's East Side, which would become only the second active licensee in Western New York.
According to the state Banking Department's weekly bulletin, regulators have given the go-ahead to Western New York Check Services LLC to operate their new business at 675 Fillmore Ave. in Buffalo.
That's the current site of the family-owned Sav-More store, which owner Paul Virginia plans to close. He and partner Paulette Gordeon said they plan to reconfigure the store to create a separate and independent check-cashing business in part of the building.
They will use the rest of the building to provide other financial services, such as utility bill payments and money orders, under the Sav-More name. The grocery business will be discontinued.
State law forbids any business from cashing a check for a customer if they don't have a state license, except as a service in the ordinary course of business, and they can't charge more than 99 cents. Those with a license are allowed to charge 1.83 percent of the face value of the check.
Currently, there's only one licensed and active check-casher in the eight-county Western New York region -- Buffalo Check Cashing, at 1325 Jefferson Ave.
A host of convenience stores, corner stores, liquor stores, gas stations and other small outlets have been found cashing checks illegally, for fees of as much as 10 percent of the face value of the check, but some stopped after a Buffalo News investigation four years ago prompted a crackdown.
Another check-cashing application, to operate Castleway Financial as a kiosk within the Corner Store at 380 Connecticut St. on the city's West Side, has been pending since last August.