The Occupy Movement Wants to Replace Your Bank

Photo (cc) by Michael Fleshman

Occupy Wall Street’s new goal: Compete with Wall Street.

A group of people who were involved in the original protests two years ago have formed the Occupy Money Cooperative. The idea, founder Carne Ross told Forbes, is to create something like a national credit union, but with no membership requirement.

“We will be a cooperative that anybody can join. But at this point, we’re not offering anything like the services of a credit union, where you can have a checking account or savings account,” Ross said. “We’re not offering those services at this point, but we hope to eventually.”

The OMC website says the cooperative “will actively and directly encourage the development of innovative financial services that will foster financial inclusion, and lead the field in terms of openness and fairness” and “provide an uplifted standard of conduct for the financial community.”

What they will offer to start with is a prepaid debit card and a promise to be transparent about fees. That type of card tends to come with a lot of them, and there aren’t many specific details available yet. It’s hard to compare the Occupy Card with existing cards until those details are available.

The card will be offered through a partnership with a bank, OMC says, so it will be FDIC-insured. And Ross argues that as more people use it, the fees will go down, because as a cooperative OMC won’t have to answer to stockholders and can pass savings on to customers. OMC hopes to help people who don’t qualify for, or don’t want to use, traditional banking services for everything. That may be more than a quarter of the population, according to an FDIC report on unbanked and underbanked households.

The founding board of OMC includes a consultant for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a former banker and hedge fund director, a former BlackBerry executive, and a couple of finance-focused academics.

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