Climate First Bank, the nation's only bank founded specifically to combat the climate crisis, today welcomes four new hires to its team. The additions include Holly Bridwell as marketing director and wingwoman to the chairman, Lauren Dubé as vice president and director of client and mission partnerships, Blaine Worak as senior vice president, senior credit administrator and loan operations manager, and Rachel Yorston as commercial and government-guaranteed lending associate. Dubbed the "Mighty Millennials," these brilliant, young professionals and their collective dedication to prevent the climate crisis represent the country's brightest future.Climate First Bank is a values-based community bank offering a complete, full-service portfolio of simple and easy-to-use traditional banking products. These products are powered by high technology to meet the expectations of today’s consumers. In addition to offering standard banking services, the company places a special emphasis on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses committed to sustainability. Eco-conscious customers will find dedicated loan options for solar photovoltaic (PV), energy retrofits and infrastructure to help combat the climate crisis.
SouthState Bank announced an investment of $500,000 into Optus Bank, a federally designated minority depository institution (MDI) and community development financial institution (CDFI), in support of the bank's mission to close the wealth gap in previously unbanked, underbanked, and historically underserved people and places. "Fulfilling our commitment to closing the opportunity gaps in our communities requires strategic investments from mission-aligned partners like SouthState. With support of their equity investment, we have raised a total of $17 million in new capital since 2020 and grown our assets to nearly $300 million," said Dominik Mjartan, Optus Bank president & CEO. "Deploying this capital into underserved communities, minority owned homes and businesses to create generational wealth is Optus Bank's mission and mandate."
The legislative housing package led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters includes: The Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021, which would provide a historic investment of over $600 billion in equitable, affordable, and accessible housing infrastructure. This generational investment would address our national eviction and homelessness crises, increase access to homeownership, and support a robust recovery from the pandemic by creating jobs, addressing climate change, and improving housing stability for struggling households; The Ending Homelessness Act of 2021, which would end homelessness and significantly reduce poverty in America by transforming the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement, so that every household who qualifies for assistance would receive it. The lead cosponsors of this bill are Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY); The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, which would help address the U.S. racial wealth and homeownership gaps by providing $100 billion toward downpayment and other financial assistance for first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home. The lead cosponsors of this bill are Representative Al Green (D-TX), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Representative Cindy Axne (D-IA), and Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX).
America's largest Black owned bank, OneUnited Bank, has made history again with its inaugural free OneTransaction Conference to close the racial wealth gap which happened on Juneteenth (June 19,2021). The conference boasted registrations of over 30,000 people! Attendees enjoyed back-to-back informative and entertaining 1-hour sessions that highlighted the OneTransaction formula – choosing one transaction to focus on in 2021 - with Black finance experts like The Budgetnista, Sharon Epperson and Chris Browning, as well as pop icons Daymond John who talked about how he built his profitable businesses and Emmy award winning actress Tiffany Haddish who talked about her love of homeownership and her pursuit of happiness. The segments covered the 6 transactions that can create generational wealth for Black America: wills, life insurance, home ownership, a profitable business, savings/investment and an improved credit score. A portion of the conference was hosted live by OneUnited owners Kevin Cohee, CEO & Chairman and Teri Williams, President & COO, at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in the heart of Harlem, which provided a beautiful, culturally relevant backdrop for the live portion of the show. Kevin & Teri talked about the historic legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday and what it means for the future of the Black struggle, the definition of "anti-racism" and how it relates to money and closing the racial wealth gap. Attendees were also invited to join the #BankBlack Movement, led by OneUnited Bank. In between pre-recorded segments and the live portions of the show, the audience enjoyed an exciting mix of music by D.J. Hasan Insane, who laid out the old school hits that kept the party going in between sessions. The full OneTransaction Conference replay is free and open to the public for viewing at www.oneunited.com/onetransaction2021. Join OneUnited Bank on Juneteenth 2022 for the 2nd Annual OneTransaction Conference.
Different demographic groups in the United States use banks in different ways. White Americans are far more likely to have a bank account and use banking services. Black, Indigenous and people of color, by contrast, are more likely to be unbanked or underbanked. A century ago, that was by design, but with the passage of anti-discrimination and anti-redlining laws in the 1960s and 1970s, nonwhite Americans have gradually been increasing their access to the financial mainstream. But there's one group that has been harder to reach than any other: Indigenous communities, and particularly Indigenous communities living on tribal reservations. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., more than 16% of people who identified as American Indian/Alaska Native were unbanked in 2019 — no checking or savings accounts, no bank loans. That percentage might not sound like a lot, but, for comparison, less than 2.5% of white people were unbanked in the same period. That makes Indigenous Americans the most unbanked demographic group the FDIC tracks. Some banks have managed to navigate these systems already. Native American Bank in Denver began in Montana in 1987 as Blackfeet National Bank, the first bank ever chartered by Indigenous peoples on a reservation. Today the $201 million-asset bank is partially owned by several tribal nations all over the country and has financed projects across 25 states. Tom Ogaard, president and CEO of Native American Bank, said success begins with familiarity.
Large U.S. banks have had diversity officers and teams in place for years, according to Naomi Mercer, SVP diversity, equity and inclusion at ABA. But Floyd's death and the events that unfolded after have created "more of an empathy shock" for many bankers, who might not have realized how deep racial disparities are. As a result, more community and regional banks have been adding diversity officer positions, often housed within human resources, to help support the bank in broadening their employee base to reflect the full communities they serve. Increasingly, established banks are not only embracing social justice interests, but they are being launched with that as a foundation to their mission. Case in point: Beneficial State Bank was founded in Oakland, California, in 2008 with the express undertaking of investing in under-served communities, according to Francis Janes, industry relations and partnership director for the Beneficial State Bank’s foundation.
The price of a single Bitcoin may be around half of what it was just a few months ago, but that doesn't mean crypto has run its course. The reality is, cryptocurrency has always been volatile in general, and Bitcoin has still shown an upward trend since inception, albeit with plenty of bumps along the road. Over the last few years, an array of banks and financial institutions have created new ways for Bitcoin enthusiasts to get into the game via bank deposits and even credit card spending. One new choice in the debit space is Quontic Bank’s Bitcoin Rewards Checking, which offers 1.5% back in Bitcoin on eligible purchases.
Remitly, a Seattle-based firm that provides international remittances and digital financial services for immigrants, has added new banking features in its money management app Passbook. Launched early last year, Passbook aims to simplify the process of opening and using a bank account for immigrants in the U.S. by eliminating banking fees, accepting alternative forms of identification, and facilitating international money transfers. The digital banking services on the Passbook app are offered through a bank account issued by Sunrise Banks, a Certified B Corp and partner bank with experience working for immigrant communities through initiatives such as the Open Door Mortgage Program. The bank has previously issued prepaid debit cards for AT&T Small Business, Boost Mobile, and Relay.
For 24 years, Ericka Gray has owned her own mediation and arbitration business in Arlington, Massachusetts, helping organizations navigate workplace disputes. But when the Covid-19 pandemic began, her income completely dried up. In May 2020, Citizens Bank approved her for a $5,800 PPP loan. It wasn’t a huge sum compared the multimillion-dollar loans some corporations received, but Gray had enough income to pay her mortgage and cover her health care costs. But in May 2021, Gray received a shocking email from Citizens explaining that no, she shouldn’t have received $5,800. Instead, a bank representative later told her on the phone, she was in fact only eligible for $3,837. The difference won’t be forgiven, and she’ll have to pay it back. Citizens did not respond to a request for comment. Gray is not the only person whose bank has reversed its stance on how much PPP money they should be eligible for and demanded repayment. Three other small business owners told The Intercept they have similarly been notified by their different lenders that they shouldn’t have received the amount they were approved for and that they’ll have to pay back the difference.
President Biden wants banks to make customer data portable. The directive can be interpreted in many different ways and may prove easier said than done. The White House, as part of a broad executive order meant to promote competition across the U.S. economy, says it "encourages the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue rules allowing customers to download their banking data and take it with them." The administration wants to "make it easier and cheaper" for consumers to take their business to rivals. How much of an effort this will require banks to make from a technology and business point of view will depend on the rules the CFPB writes. The agency could validate the current state of consumer data sharing in the U.S., in which aggregators pull data out of banks and give it to fintechs on behalf of consumers. Or it could require something new — actually letting consumers download their own data in a usable format onto a device or into an online storage account, or allowing customers to have their data sent from one bank to another.