SACRAMENTO, Calif. (12/15/08)--Several California credit unions are participating along with banks in a new program announced Friday to create 100,000 accounts over two years to allow the poor and immigrants to open and maintain accounts at financial institutions. The program, Bank on California, will be funded with grants from the William J. Clinton Foundation and will be implemented in five cities: Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. The program is modeled on a Bank of San Francisco program that has been running for two years, resulting in 31,000 accounts opened by first-time users (The New York Times
Dec. 12). Currently, 12 credit unions have signed up to participate in the program and another eight to 10 are exploring the possibility, Rita Fillingane, director of research and information for the California Credit Union League, told News Now
. “The league has encouraged credit unions to get involved,” she said. “The object is to bring unbanked consumers into the mainstream banking ranks. Credit unions have done that all along anyway, so it’s a perfect fit for them to participate.” The five cities chose to participate because they have high unbanked populations, Fillingame said, adding that the program will be rolled out to other California cities in the future. She said financial institutions are asked to offer starter accounts through the program with baseline features, including:
* Low-cost accounts; * No monthly minimum balance requirements; * The waiving of one set of non-sufficient fund fees; * Acceptance of alternative forms of identification for account holders; and * Tracking of accounts, so credit unions and other financial institutions can report back to the governor’s office regarding the success of the program.