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National Bank On Initiative Convenes Stakeholders to Take Stock of Growth of Movement; Celebrates 160+ Certified Safe Banking Products and 90 Local Banking Access Coalitions

November 15, 2021 GMT
(PRNewsfoto/Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund)
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(PRNewsfoto/Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund)
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(PRNewsfoto/Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund)

NEW YORK, Nov. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) today hosted the virtual 2021 Bank On National Conference. The largest conference in the banking access field brought together key stakeholders from multiple sectors across the country: local Bank On coalition program leads and their community partners, Mayors, city administrators, tribal governments, financial institutions large and small, federal banking regulators, national nonprofit organizations, philanthropic partners, consumer advocates, and more. The conference included a keynote address from Jelena McWilliams, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and conversations with sector leaders from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the US House of Representatives, the American Bankers Association, and the Brookings Institution on the growing movement momentum.

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On the first of the two-day virtual conference, federal regulator partners and CFE Fund leaders discussed the growth of the Bank On movement. There are now over 160 Bank On nationally certified accounts, offered by banks and credit unions representing 52% of the domestic deposit market; almost half of all US bank branches offer a Bank On certified account; and federal agencies ranging from the FDIC to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are pointing consumers to Bank On accounts to receive federal payments. There are over 90 local and state Bank On coalitions working to advance this national movement. The CFE Fund also announced a new partnership with consumer reporting agency ChexSystems, Inc. to facilitate easier access to no-risk, safe and affordable Bank On certified accounts.

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In her keynote address, Chairman McWilliams highlighted the FDIC’s efforts to connect consumers to safe accounts through its #GetBanked initiative, which was especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the Bank On movement has been a critical partner to the FDIC’s work. Additionally, sector leaders including Michael J. Hsu, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, OCC; U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07); Rob Nichols, President and CEO, American Bankers Association; and Aaron Klein, Senior Fellows, Economic Studies, Brooking Institutions were in conversation with CFE Fund CEO Jonathan Mintz around the importance of Bank On efforts during the pandemic, as well as next steps for this vibrant national movement.

“Today’s Conference marks a new chapter in the Bank On movement,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Our joint efforts, from financial institutions to local coalitions to government leaders to advocates, have ensured that safe banking access is here to meet the nation’s moment of need. From the explosive growth in Bank On certified accounts, to the coalitions working every day to connect their communities to safe banking, to the national and large-scale opportunities to couple government payments and safe accounts – our work together has proven that Bank On offers large scale solutions to the millions of our neighbors who are disconnected from the mainstream.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CFE Fund and its Bank On coalition partners have been highlighting the availability of certified accounts that can be opened online to receive stimulus, Child Tax Credit, and other large scale payments; federal agencies from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guided consumers to Bank On certified accounts to receive their payments, and the CFE Fund’s first-ever consumer facing ad campaign has been seen by 8 million consumers. At the Conference, the CFE Fund highlighted the growth of large-scale banking access initiative, detailing coalition experiences with promoting Bank On account access to receive federal payments, as well as in connecting Bank On accounts to unemployment insurance payments in the State of Maryland.

Additionally, a recent study from Bank Policy Institute found that Bank On certified accounts are making banking access more inclusive: Bank On accounts are opened at the highest rates in areas with high concentrations of lower-income and minority households. In 2017, almost 60 percent of Bank On certified accounts were opened by customers in areas with over 50 percent minority population, while only 30 percent of reporting bank branches were in these areas. At the Conference, representatives from First Independence Bank, the FDIC, JPMorgan Chase and Bank On coalition leaders from the City of Atlanta and from Miami explored how banking access can further racial equity efforts.

Other discussion topics included discussions on communicating the value of Bank On accounts directly to consumers; perspectives from small and large financial institutions on how offering a certified account creates multiple opportunities for success; and strategies for banking access connectivity and integrating banking access into community programs.

“Sound financial health is the foundation for strong households and communities, but is out of reach for too many people,” said Courtney Hodapp, Executive Director, JPMorgan Chase. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to work with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and support the Bank On National Conference to improve access to banking, especially for Black, Hispanic and Latino communities.” JPMorgan Chase is the seed funder of the Bank On movement.

“Bank of America is pleased our SafeBalance Banking account has been Bank On certified by CFE Fund once again. We believe affordable financial solutions should be available to everyone,” said Mary Hines Droesch, Head of Consumer & Small Business Products at Bank of America. “We’re committed to helping clients budget, save, borrow and spend with confidence through transparent solutions and personalized guidance. SafeBalance is one of our fastest growing accounts and has provided access to safe, affordable banking with no overdraft fees since 2014.”

“As an early adopter of the Bank On Standards, Citi is proud to play a role in helping consumers enter the banking mainstream with an affordable and safe account to manage their finances,” said Craig Vallorano, Head of U.S. Retail Banking at Citi. “We continue to seek ways to innovate by offering the accounts in partnership with National Urban League and other nonprofits in the community.”

“At Truist our purpose is to inspire and build better lives and communities,” said Heidi Schoonover, director of Community Reinvestment Act strategic programs & initiatives at Truist. “We’re committed to providing affordable and transparent banking solutions to our communities, empowering them with resources to achieve financial stability. Truist is proud to be part of the Bank On national movement, helping more people have access to financial mainstream.

“U.S. Bank is intensely focused on financial inclusion through transparent access to a broad range of financial products, services and credit options in underserved communities,” said Erica Opstad, senior vice president of community affairs at U.S. Bank. “Bank On is a barrier breaking leader when it comes to providing a clear and equitable structure for safe and affordable products for consumers. We are proud to stand with Bank On, the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and other certified lending institutions to continually evolve financial products and services that meet the changing needs of our communities.”

Bank On works to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services. The Bank On National Account Standards identify critical product features for appropriate bank or credit union accounts, making it easier for local coalitions across the country to connect consumers to accounts that meet their needs. Core account features include low costs, no-overdraft fees, robust transaction capabilities such as a debit or prepaid card, and online bill pay.

The CFE Fund leads the national Bank On movement, supporting local coalitions working to connect individuals and families to the financial mainstream through partnerships between local governments, financial institutions, and community organizations. To learn more about Bank On and the National Account Standards click here, or follow the conversation on Twitter @CFEfund #BankOn.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)

The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. The CFE Fund is currently working in over 100 cities, and has disbursed over $55 million to city governments and their partners to support these efforts. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.

About Bank On

Bank On coalitions are locally-led partnerships between local public officials; city, state, and federal government agencies; financial institutions; and community organizations that work together to help improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked individuals and families in their communities. The Bank On national initiative builds on a grassroots movement of over 90 coalitions in cities across the country, offering national account standards, capacity grant support, pilot funding, and a learning community. In addition to connecting unbanked individuals to accounts, Bank On programs raise public awareness, target outreach to the unbanked, and expand access to financial education. Visit www.cfefund.org/bankon for more information, or follow the conversation on Twitter @CFEFund #BankOn.

Media Contact:
Max Leitenberger
max.leitenberger@hkstrategies.com
914-434-5725

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SOURCE Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund