October 19, 2020

ABA: America’s Banks Urged to Offer Bank On-Certified Accounts

Core Providers Pledge Support for Financial Inclusion Initiative

The American Bankers Association today called on every bank in the country to consider offering Bank On-certified accounts to expand access to banking services and reduce the number of unbanked and underbanked Americans. In urging all banks to join ABA in this financial inclusion initiative during his opening remarks at ABA’s Unconventional Convention, ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols also commended the nation’s core processors, which provide the operational backbone behind many banks, for committing to make it easier for their bank customers to offer the highly affordable accounts that meet the Bank On National Account Standards.

“Despite a strong and intensely competitive financial services industry, we know that millions of Americans – and families of color in particular – remain outside the mainstream banking system and are missing the economic opportunities that come from having a bank account,” said Nichols.“By offering Bank On-certified accounts with the help of their core providers, America’s banks can open doors of opportunity to new and returning customers, demonstrating the banking industry’s commitment to financial inclusion.”

First inspired by the FDIC’s Safe Account Pilot, the Bank On National Account Standards were created by national nonprofit organization the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund—or CFE Fund—and are widely supported by consumer advocates and the financial services industry. Key account features include low costs, no overdraft fees, robust transaction capabilities such as a debit or prepaid card, and online bill pay.

More than 40 banks offer Bank On-certified accounts today, and in its 2019 Bank On National Data Hub report, the St. Louis Federal Reserve noted that “the demand and use of Bank On accounts is strong and continues to grow,” with more than 3.4 million accounts opened to date across just 10 reporting institutions. Bank On accounts, which can provide CRA service credit for banks, not only bring new customers into the banking system (75% of Bank On accounts opened in 2018 were opened by new customers), but the accounts “perform in a manner consistent with that of a bank’s existing customer base and at similar costs.”

“We welcome ABA’s strong support for the Bank On movement,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the CFE Fund. “By urging banks of all sizes to join this initiative, particularly community banks, we can welcome millions of Americans into the banking system safely and efficiently. We also deeply appreciate the critical role the nation’s core providers are playing to make it happen.”

“Old National has been a champion of the Bank On program since 2008, and today our Bank On-certified EZ Access account allows us to bring in new clients who otherwise might not have enjoyed the safety and convenience of a bank account,” said Jim Ryan, chairman and CEO of Old National Bank in Evansville, Ind. “It’s no exaggeration to say the Bank On program has the power to change lives, and Old National is pleased to join the ABA in encouraging other institutions to join the Bank On movement.”

While many banks may already offer accounts that meet the Bank On Standards, they may not realize they qualify for a Bank On certification. For those banks that don’t currently offer accounts that meet every Bank On standard, the nation’s core providers including Fiserv, FIS, Jack Henry, Finastra and 16 other core companies are committing to simplify the process for their bank customers to create and offer accounts that qualify for Bank On certification. (See full list here.) Banks interested in learning more about Bank On account certification or want to have their current account offerings certified can visit https://joinbankon.org/certify.

“The core providers deserve credit for stepping up to support this important initiative and their bank customers,” Nichols said. “Their partnership will make it easier for banks across the country to offer these accounts and join the Bank On movement.”

ABA will work closely with the CFE Fund, the core processors and other stakeholders to remove other obstacles limiting access to banking services in the country.

To learn more about ABA’s commitment to inclusive banking, visit aba.com/InclusiveBanking.

The ABA Foundation also has helpful resources and information for consumers interested in opening a bank account at aba.com/BankAccounts.

This post was originally published here.