No bank account? No problem! says the city

This just in from the mayor’s office. We’re all thinking about banks a little more than usual given what’s happening in the $ world, so this program for the “unbanked” may affect more people than before – read on:

Official news release:

Mayor Greg Nickels today launched “Bank on Seattle-King
County,” a new initiative to connect people without bank accounts to
affordable mainstream financial services including checking, savings,
credit and financial education opportunities.

“This initiative will help people keep more of what they earn and
become financially secure,” said Nickels. “Access to checking and
savings accounts is an essential tool that most people take for granted.
It is simply unacceptable that some people pay high fees for the
financial services that others get for free or at very low cost.”

“Bank on Seattle” will help address the needs of the
“unbanked,” those without checking and savings accounts; and
the “underbanked,” those who may have accounts in name only and rely
on higher-cost financial services. The city of Seattle has collaborated
with more than 20 banks and credit unions to provide people, who may
typically be distrustful of banks or who may have experienced challenges
managing accounts in the past, the opportunity to break through these
financial barriers.

Participating banking institutions will offer a variety of options for
the “unbanked,” including checking accounts with low opening
deposits of $50 or less, and holding a zero monthly minimum balance. All
participating financial institutions are offering accounts with very low
or no monthly fees and free ATM/debit cards and savings accounts.

Approximately 52,000 households in Seattle and King County are
“unbanked” and use higher cost services, such as check cashers
and payday lenders, rather than the more affordable financial services
offered by banks and credit unions.

Studies show that using lending and check cashing services strips
almost $22 million annually from families and communities in Seattle
alone. A $20,000 income household pays an average of $800 a year in
check cashing fees.

Key support for the initiative comes from former President Bill Clinton
and the William J. Clinton Foundation. “The American dream promises
that if you work hard and play by the rules you will be able to earn a
good living, raise a family in comfort and retire with dignity. But
that dream is becoming harder to realize for too many of our people,”
said President Clinton. “I want to congratulate Mayor Nickels and the
city of Seattle for their leadership in launching Bank on Seattle-King
County. My Foundation’s Economic Opportunity Initiative is working to
help state and city leaders across the United States advance common
sense, community driven and market-based approaches enabling people to
get in and stay in the financial mainstream.”

In addition to the city of Seattle, the initiative sponsors are the
Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the Federal
Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Seattle-King County Asset Building
Collaborative, and The Seattle Foundation. Participating banks and
credit unions include: Bank of America, Banner Bank, BECU, Cathay Bank,
City Bank, Columbia Bank, Express Credit Union, Frontier Bank,
HomeStreet Bank, KeyBank, International Bank, Plaza Bank, Seattle
Metropolitan Credit Union, Seattle Savings Bank, United Commercial Bank,
U.S. Bank, Verity Credit Union, Viking Bank, WaMu, Watermark Credit
Union, Wells Fargo Bank, and Woodstone Credit Union.

In addition, more than 25 nonprofit organizations will help connect
their “unbanked” clients to the initiative and 10 of these
organizations also are offering financial education to initiative

“I am thrilled that more than 20 banks and credit unions in Seattle
and King County are participating,” said Seattle Councilmember Sally
Clark. “By providing services and products that meet the needs of
unbanked people, they are helping change lives for the better.”

In addition to the sponsors of the initiative, Bank on Seattle-King
County’s national and state partners include the William J. Clinton
Foundation, Bank on San Francisco, the National League of Cities, the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Cities for Financial
Empowerment, Pew Charitable Trusts, the US Conference of Mayors, the
Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic
Development, and the Washington Asset Building Collaborative.

1 Reply to "No bank account? No problem! says the city"

  • Michael September 22, 2008 (4:47 pm)

    I wonder if we’ll hear of a George W. Bush Foundation doing this kind of work in the years to come. My bet is no.

Sorry, comment time is over.