CFE Fund Submits Comment Letter on Community Reinvestment Act Reform

July 21st, 2022

The CFE Fund recently submitted a comment letter to the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on their proposal to amend the regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

Citing experiences from the Bank On movement, as well as the FEC Public initiative, the CFE Fund supported the proposal for a new Retail Services and Products Test that would evaluate a bank’s branch availability, delivery systems, and the responsiveness of their products to the needs of low- and moderate-income communities; the CFE Fund also supported the highlighting of the Bank On National Account Standards as an example of  a responsive deposit product. The CFE Fund suggested that the new Retail Services and Products Test 1) evaluates all large banks for the responsiveness of their deposit products; 2) enables “intermediate” sized banks to elect the Retail Services and Product Test; and 3) looks to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Bank On National Data Hub as an example of key metrics that examiners might use to assess financial institution account engagement.

Finally, the CFE Fund supported the agencies’ proposal to create a separate definition for activities that help individuals and families make informed decisions about managing income, savings, credit, and expenses that is distinct from other community development services, and suggested highlighting activities that produce measurable impacts such as banking access, credit score improvement, debt reduction, and savings increases.

CFE Fund Announces More Than 200 Bank On Certified Accounts

March 30th, 2022

Just eight months after the 100th account was Bank On certified, the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced there are now 200 bank and credit union accounts nationally certified as meeting the Bank On National Account Standards. Banks and credit unions offering certified accounts comprise over 56% of the U.S. deposit market share, and 47% of all US bank branches offer a certified account. Over 3.8 million Bank On certified accounts were open and active in 2020, in 80% of US zip codes, according to the Federal Reserve Board  of St. Louis’ Bank On National Data Hub.

“From federal payment streams like the stimulus and Child Tax Credit, to state and local programs like unemployment benefits or workforce development, the availability of a safe and affordable, no-overdraft-fee banking account to receive and use funds has never been greater,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “The Bank On movement has grown exponentially: in every state in the country, there are now more than 200 banks and credit unions, comprising more than half of the country’s deposit market share, that offer a Bank On certified account, and over 90 local Bank On coalitions working energetically to connect consumers to these products and the financial mainstream.”

Bank On works to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services. The Bank On National Account Standards identify critical product features for appropriate bank or credit union accounts, making it easier for local coalitions across the country to connect consumers to accounts that meet their needs. Core account features include low costs, no overdraft fees, robust transaction capabilities such as a debit or prepaid card, and online bill pay. The CFE Fund recently announced a partnership with ChexSystems that reflects the greatly diminished risk factors in an account designed not to be overdrawn; ChexSystems is offering a new, Bank On-specific customer review strategy that will facilitate enrolling more customers into Bank On certified accounts.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Bank On National Data Hub found that 80% of consumers opening Bank On certified accounts at reporting institutions were new banking customers. Additionally, Bank On is making banking more inclusive, with more Bank On branches available in areas with more people of color: close to 60 percent of Bank On certified accounts were opened by customers in areas with 50+ percent minority population. These accounts can expand access to safe and appropriate transactional accounts to the almost 36 million people outside of the mainstream financial system.

Just Released: Bank On National Data Hub 2020 Data

December 22nd, 2021

The CFE Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis partnered to create the  Bank On National Data (BOND) Hub, which aggregates national Bank On account activity across three categories of metrics: Account Opening, Account Usage and Consistency, and Online Access.

The latest BOND Hub report, The Bank On National Data Hub: Findings from 2020, includes key takeaways from the 2020 data collection featuring 17 reporting financial institutions. The report found that 3.8 million accounts were open and active in 2020, representing about 80% of U.S. ZIP codes, and that 82% of Bank On accounts opened in 2020 – more than 4 out of 5 accounts – were opened by customers who were new to the financial institution.

Read the report now, and learn more about reporting your Bank On certified account data to the BOND HUB.