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Bank On 2.0 Launched Nationally

Posted by lmullany on 11/19/2013

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund announced the creation of Bank On 2.0, a new effort to create a unified, national approach to delivering safe, affordable banking products and services to low-income and underbanked people through municipal programs across the country like Bank On Chicago. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation’s $1.15 million seed funding commitment is a two-year grant that will complement the CFE Fund’s raising of matching funds from other partner organizations, including other financial institutions.

Bank On 2.0 will build on the grassroots success of a wide array of Bank On and related banking access programs in cities across the country, like Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. Bank On 2.0 aims to identify best practices and build a national, evidence-based strategy that will help people, who might otherwise be subject to costly alternative financial services, access basic, safe, and affordable bank services. The ultimate goal is to create a national approach and infrastructure that includes products, services, best practices, resources and other technical assistance that will facilitate local municipal efforts to connect unbanked and under-banked residents to safe and affordable mainstream banking services.

Community Organization Input

Bank On 2.0 has the potential to bring safer and more accessible banking products to the millions of un/underbanked in the United States and Illinois. Currently the hundreds of municipal and state Bank On initiatives across the country feature different checking account requirements, varying levels of financial and community support, and have yielded varying degrees of success and failure. The common thread in successful and dynamic Bank On initiatives has been an engaged group of local community organization partners. Community organizations understand local unbanked populations because they directly serve them. They know which checking account fees and barriers to access lead those who are unbanked to choose check cashers over financial institutions. With a hand in the unbanked community, they are a trusted voice for someone to learn about safer checking account options. The support, commitment, and presence of community organizations in their local Bank On initiative's decision making process is often the deciding factor of whether or not that initiative is successful. IABG encourages the Bank On 2.0 national initiatve tp actively seek input and feedback from community organizations participating in their own local Bank On initiatives. Furthermore, IABG recommends that these community organizations have a presence in Bank On 2.0 equal to that of financial institutions.

Strong Product Recommendations are Necessary

Earlier this year IABG convened community partners participating in the Bank On Chicago initiative on how to make Bank On Chicago approved checking accounts safer, more accessible, and with lower fees. A list of recommendations, informed and supported by those who directly serve the un- and under-banked in Chicago, have since been presented to the City of Chicago Treasurer Stephanie Neely who manages the Bank On Chicago initiative. We recommend that the Bank On 2.0 initiative adopt a similar strategy of soliciting input from the nonprofit asset building advocacy, policy, and direct service provider field on product requirement specifics. Bank On 2.0 can be an opportunity to adopt strong standards for the banking products offered by participating Bank On financial institutions to enhance local Bank On efforts to provide safer, cheaper, and more accessible bank services to their communities.

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