On Wednesday Mayor A C Wharton officially launched Bank on Memphis to address what he and others are calling a “critical issue threatening our community’s economic stability.” It’s not likely that Memphians without bank accounts use the term “unbanked” as a self-description. That is, however, a term used by many out to help those without banking relationships tie the knot with financial institutions.
On Wednesday during a ceremony at Incredible Pizza in Hickory Ridge Mall, Mayor A C Wharton officially launched Bank on Memphis to address what he and others are calling a “critical issue threatening our community’s economic stability.”
| Mayor A C Wharton greets an attendee at the Bank on Memphis launch on Wednesday. Those on board with the initiative to get more people into healthy relationships with banks and credit unions include Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell (behind Wharton). (Photos by Earl Stanback)|
| The Bank on Memphis goal includes getting 5000 unbanked Memphians into the financial mainstream in year one.|
• 45,000 – the number of unbanked households in Shelby County
• $45 million – the estimate of total lost savings opportunities
• No 1 – where Memphis ranks among the 69 largest metropolitan areas when it comes to percentage of households without banking relationships.
Bank On Memphis aims to help individuals and households to handle their finances in a safe, efficient manner and to build assets and wealth. It’s patterned on a model that has spread to about 70 communities since it took root in San Francisco in 2006.
The initiative will concentrate on attracting those who don’t have accounts or relationships with regulated banks or credit unions – the unbanked – and those who do have relationships but don’t use them to the fullest extent possible – the underbanked.
Instruction in personal financial management is built into the model.
Wharton began talking up an outreach effort soon after he took office in November 2009. He and his administration brought Shelby County government, prominent local banking executives and non-profit partners into the conversation that evolved into Bank on Memphis.
And those on hand Wednesday for the signing of the Bank on Memphis agreement included Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir, representatives of the Rise Foundation of Memphis, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis-Memphis Branch and other financial and non-profit partners.
To honor the kickoff, Incredible Pizza was handing out $10 gift cards to anyone opening a new checking account through Bank on Memphis.
The goal is to get at least 45,000 unbanked Memphians into the financial mainstream through Bank on Memphis, including 5,000 in year one. Critical to the operation is low-cost basic banking and savings accounts, and financial education.
The selling points include that not having a sound relationship with financial institution can hinder options when it comes to buying a house, getting a loan or access to credit. There’s also the pitch that hundreds of dollars are wasted each year to cash checks at check-cashing businesses and stores.
For more information, visit http://bankonmemphis.org.