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.
Dominik Mjartan become president and CEO of what would become Optus Bank, an organization with a historic but rocky past, in September 2017. The bank, founded in 1921 as Victory Savings Banks and then known as S.C. Community Bank, was at its lowest point, reeling from the Great Recession of 2008, mired in a mess of non-performing assets and on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s troubled bank list. How the bank got from there to record assets, a swanky new downtown headquarters and a swelling sense of optimism involves the commitment of long-time believers — and their money — along with an infusion of fresh capital from new converts. “We need to make sure that economic opportunities are present and folks can improve their lives and make good choices for themselves,” Mjartan said. “I think every person should have a fair chance to earn a good living or to build a business or buy a house.” Optus’ remarkable turnaround bears out Mjartan’s belief. Since year-end 2016, the bank’s total assets have grown 51% to $80 million, up from a low of $47.8 million in September 2017, when Mjartan took over. Total deposits have grown to $71.2 million, a 50% increase since year-end 2016 and up from a low of $41.5 million.
This month, South Carolina Community Bank officially changed its name to Optus Bank. The bank will also complete its conversion to a new core banking system and upgraded products and services on May 13th. The new brand is designed to highlight progress made by the bank, which was removed last March from the FDIC's troubled bank list. In 2018, the bank realized its first year of profitability and growth in 10 years, according to a news release from Optus. "We purposefully delayed the name change until the bank was healthy, profitable and able to deliver on our brand promise," said Optus president and CEO Dominik Mjartan. "The progress we made in 2018 positions us to fully live our new brand."
Many bank executives are excited about the benefits created by Opportunity Zones. However, other banks are still wondering if participation in them is even feasible. CDBA's Jeannine Jacokes offers her insights in this special report from American Banker. The article also features CDBA members Dominik Mjartan of Optus Bank, Tom Nida of City First Bank, Adam Northup of Virginia Community Capital, and Bill Dana of the Central Bank of Kansas City, all of whom support stronger regulations for Opportunity Zone projects.