In an ironic twist, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which, two years ago, galvanized resentment against Wall Street and gave birth to the phrase “the 99%,” has given birth to something new: a financial institution.
Or, as they call it — the Occupy Money Cooperative.
“We launched [the Occupy Money Cooperative] because we felt that the way the for-profit banking industry operates in the U.S., it intrinsically exposes the U.S. economy to risk and makes us vulnerable to the consequences but, above all, fails many millions of Americans who don’t have bank accounts and are denied banking services,” founder and director Carne Ross, of the non-profit advisory group Independent Diplomat, said.
He said the Occupy Money Cooperative, which was created by a small group of volunteers who met in Zucotti Park two years ago (see the board members here), will provide access to financial services, particularly to those who are denied them by the for-profit banks.
On the site, the cooperative pledges that it:
“Will offer access to low cost, transparent, high quality financial services to everyone. “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. “Will lead by example to affect a positive change for our members and stakeholders, and provide an uplifted standard of conduct for the financial community. “Will actively work with business partners and organizations that demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their communities.” Like a credit union, the cooperative will be owned and controlled by its members.
However, Ross says the cooperative will have a crucial distinction from credit unions: “[Credit unions have] restricted membership, a defined membership, whereas 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. We’re not offering those services at this point, but we hope to eventually.”
Already signing up members, The Occupy Money Cooperative is in the process of raising money. Within a few days, the site will have a page for donations from members and non-members.
Once it gets sufficient funds for staff and other operating expenses, it will launch its first product: The Occupy Card, a prepaid debit card that will cost 99 cents a month.