MILWAUKEE, WI – Accounts at Equitable Bank, First Federal Bank, PNC Bank, and Summit Credit Union have been officially certified by the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) as meeting the 2021-2022 Bank On National Account Standards (NAS), bringing the number of NAS certified accounts in the Milwaukee area to eleven. The national safe account standards, co-created by consumer advocates, leading national nonprofit organizations, civic leaders, and other financial institutions, include features that ensure low cost, high functionality, and consumer safety. Bank On Greater Milwaukee, a program of the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, works with financial institutions, community organizations, local government leaders, and federal regulators to connect Milwaukee area residents to safe, affordable, and productive banking accounts.
“A basic transaction account is an important first step to participating in the financial mainstream, where account holders can deposit earnings securely, pay bills efficiently, save money, and eventually access affordable credit. We are thrilled to welcome four more certified accounts to Milwaukee and increase the opportunity for area families to build a strong financial foundation,” says Constance Alberts, Bank On Greater Milwaukee Program Manager.
Key features of NAS certified accounts include low or no monthly costs, no overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees, the ability to pay bills and make purchases, and federal deposit insurance. The following accounts are or will soon be available at their corresponding financial institution branches across the region:
- Balance Account (Summit Credit Union)
- Fresh Start Checking (First Federal Bank)
- Smart Access Prepaid VISA Card (PNC Bank)
- EZ Checking* (Equitable Bank) *available starting May 3, 2021
Summit Credit Union CEO & President Kim Sponem says “Summit Credit Union is honored to join Bank On Greater Milwaukee efforts in connecting Greater Milwaukee residents to equitable financial products and services. We are committed to providing products and programs that build financial capacity and smart personal finances skills to the communities we serve, and joining Bank On Greater Milwaukee will further support this work.”
At least 44,000 households in Milwaukee are unbanked, causing individuals to rely on costly alternative financial services like check cashers, payday lenders, and pawnshops for routine financial transactions. Fees associated with using alternative services can cost an unbanked person around $40,000 over a lifetime.
“First Federal Bank strives to deliver quick local decision making, a great customer experience, and a significant community commitment as part of our mission to provide The Community Bank Difference. We have worked to develop products and services which are both accessible and equitable to the underserved and unbanked individuals in our communities,” Edward H. Schaefer, President & CEO, First Federal Bank.
Since launching in 2019, Bank On Greater Milwaukee has helped eleven financial institutions establish accounts that meet Bank On national account standards, increasing local access to accounts that are safe, affordable, and meet the needs of individuals and families.
“Bank On Greater Milwaukee is doing critical work to help Milwaukee area residents enter the financial mainstream – this is especially important during COVID-19, as consumers need to access and manage their money both affordably and safely,” said David Rothstein, Senior Principal at the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Certified accounts offer Milwaukee residents an affordable, no-surprise-fee account that allow for direct deposit of income and benefits (like stimulus or unemployment), and help with managing and spending money safely. By certifying accounts, these financial institutions move to the forefront of national banking access efforts, and we thank them.”
For more information on the program and a full list of Milwaukee-area certified accounts, visit our Certified Accounts page.