Optus Bank’s origins date back to 1921 when a group of visionary and courageous African American leaders founded Victory Savings Bank on the principle that all people should have access to the American Dream, not just those born into the “right” circumstances. We are committed to helping all people build wealth and improve their lives, regardless of their background or situation. We offer innovative ways to manage, move, save and borrow money for individuals and small businesses with the goal of ensuring that wealth building is not just for the wealthy. Unlike traditional financial institutions that seek to solely maximize the financial returns for their shareholders, we strive balance the needs of all stakeholders - our customers, communities, employees and shareholders.
Optus Bank is a federally designated Minority Depository Institution and a U.S. Treasury Certified Community Development Financial Institution.
On June 2, Bank of America made a $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. Today, the company is announcing its initial progress by directing one-third, or $300 million, of its $1 billion commitment to four key areas across 91 U.S. markets and globally: $25 million in support of jobs initiatives in Black and Hispanic/Latino communities, $25 million in support of community outreach and initiatives, $50 million in direct equity investments to Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and $200 million of proprietary equity investments in minority entrepreneurs, businesses and funds. MDI recipients will include First Independence bank and Optus Bank.
PayPal has just deposited $50 million in an account at Optus Bank, a minority-owned institution in Columbia, S.C., that has $155 million in assets. As unlikely as this pairing may sound, it happened relatively quickly. In June, PayPal announced a $530 million commitment to support minority communities and businesses in the U.S., especially those hardest hit by the pandemic, to help address economic inequality. Dominik Mjartan, Optus Bank's CEO, obtained a contact at PayPal through a friend and set in motion a conversation through which the San Jose, Calif., payment giant made Optus one if its recipients. In an interview, Mjartan told the story of how the new funding came about, what he intends to do with it and why so many financial hurdles still exist for Black-owned businesses.
The coronavirus pandemic and the heightened attention on race have thrown new light on a longstanding source of economic inequality: Black communities have less access to credit than white ones. To address that gap, Washington and Wall Street are turning to a small network of lenders set up precisely to address that disparity. Community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, are community-based banks, credit unions and investment funds that lend to home buyers, small businesses and others in rural, impoverished and minority communities. Among CDFIs featured is CDBA member Optus Bank in Columbia, South Carolina.