By Rose Oswald Poels
For several years now, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) has been a proud supporter of the national Bank On initiative and of the Bank On Greater Milwaukee (BOGM) coalition as both efforts help connect consumers to safe, affordable bank accounts. I am happy to report that at least 20 banks across Wisconsin currently participate by offering a Bank On-certified account to consumers, and I strongly encourage others to join in the initiative.
A certified account is an account that meets the Bank On National Account Standards, which includes a transaction account at an insured depository institution with access to a debit card network for point of sale and bill payment, a minimum opening deposit requirement of $25 or less, low or waivable monthly maintenance fees, and no overdraft or NSF fees, nor account activation, closure, dormancy, inactivity or low balance fees. There are other customer service and account functionality standards that also need to be met for an account to be Bank On certified.
To obtain account validation, banks submit their account terms and contact information, and any other supportive document, to the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) web portal for validation. The National Consumer Law Center compares the account features to the “core features” of the National Account Standards. The validation process is either an approval or denial process, meaning the account either meets all core Standards features or they do not.
Banking core service providers, including Finastra, FIS, Fiserv, and Jack Henry, have all committed to support this initiative with simplified processes for their bank customers to create and offer accounts that qualify for Bank On certification. Banks should work closely with their providers to be sure to utilize all available tools.
As mentioned earlier, I strongly encourage banks to consider joining the initiative to offer a Bank On-certified account and to participate in BOGM if they are in the greater Milwaukee region. These efforts continue to make positive impacts for un-banked and under-banked consumers in Wisconsin and for community partners who seek safe, reliable resources for those they work with, including local youth, first-time job seekers, families with disabilities, refugees, consumers whose first language is not English, and reentry individuals.
Through my participation with the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability and the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation, I have seen first-hand how product offerings such as Bank On-certified accounts truly can make positive, lasting impacts for consumers’ financial wellbeing. Regarding the Governor’s Council, I wish to take this opportunity to again congratulate BOGM on being a recipient of a recent Governor’s Financial Literacy Legacy Award. The award is given to organizations whose purpose and heritage are ingrained in sustained financial literacy and capability efforts, and whose reputation in doing so is held in high regard in serving as a model for others in carrying on the work of supporting financial literacy and expanding opportunities through financial capability and financial inclusion. BOGM is certainly well deserving of this award.
Resources regarding Bank On and registration information for an upcoming BOGM event may be found below.
BOGM Event: September 19 in Brookfield
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will host a Milwaukee Alliance for Economic Inclusion (AEI) meeting with BOGM to increase its impact in the region and showcase the success of members’ achievements that improve access to safe, affordable, and sustainable insured transaction accounts. The event will include a networking lunch and three facilitated small group discussions to connect attendees with successful partners, advocates, and leaders, creating greater inclusion in Metro Milwaukee’s low- and moderate-income communities.
Presenters for the event include:
- Constance Alberts, Program Director BOGM
- Kristi Luzar, Executive Director, Urban Economic Development Association
- Lisa Locke, Community Development Advisor, Bank On National Data (BOND) Hub, Louisville Branch Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
- D. Simone Stovall, Community Affairs Regional Manager & Bank Examiner, FDIC
- Carol Maria, Community Affairs Specialist, FDIC
The meeting will be held Tuesday, September 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT at the Brookfield Lake Corporate Park – Lake Lounge Conference Room, located at 17975 Sarah Lane, Brookfield, Wisconsin.